Police were shocked to find more than 200 animals stashed in a man's car near the state border, in the biggest seizure of native animals ever undertaken in WA.
Officers pulled the man over for speeding on the Eyre Highway near Eucla, when they noticed large bags in the vehicle.
It's alleged 15 bags and 15 plastic containers and bottles housing 198 reptiles, of which 58 are venomous, 16 marsupials, three cockroaches and two spiders were uncovered.
The animals were seized and are now being cared for at Perth Zoo.
Wildlife Officer Cameron Craigie said unfortunately, when found, several of the animals were already dead, or were in very poor health and had to be put down.
“Taking native fauna from the wild is illegal and legislation is in place to prohibit this, including exporting native wildlife interstate or internationally.
“This illegal activity poses significant risk to the animals’ welfare, which is rarely considered by offenders and we have seen reptiles smuggled in inhumane conditions for extended periods of time without food or water, in extremes of temperature and generally with rough handling/treatment," Mr Craigie said.
The illegal wildlife trade is a lucrative market for offenders, with each animal worth up to $4000 - $10,000 internationally.