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January 27th, 2010
Is that a gecko in your pants...or is it 44 of them?

Judge Colin Doherty ordered Hans Kurt Kubus, 58, of Bad Munstereifel in Germany, be deported as soon as he is released from prison.

Kubus was convicted of plundering New Zealand's wild gecko and skink populations after he was caught by wildlife officials at Christchurch International Airport in December with 44 geckos and skinks in a hand-sewn package concealed in his underwear.

Mike Bodie, Department of Conservation prosecutor, told Christchurch District Court that Kubus could have faced potential maximum penalties of half a million dollars and six months in prison.He admitted trading in exploited species without a permit and hunting absolutely protected wildlife without authority, pleading guilty to two charges under the Wildlife Act and five under the Trade in Endangered Species Act.

Mr Bodie told Judge Doherty that the department sought a deterrent sentence for "the most serious case of its kind detected in New Zealand for a decade or more."

The geckos may have been worth 2000 euros each on the European market, he noted.

"Internationally, this type of trade is prevalent and is on the increase worldwide and can be lucrative," he said.

Customs records showed that Kubus had also been to New Zealand in 2001, 2004, 2008, and 2009. In 2008 he had been with a Swiss reptile dealer.

Judge Doherty said Kubus had come to New Zealand and set about poaching the animals in a premeditated way which would have had an impact on particular colonies.



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