Award-winning film maker caught smuggling reptiles

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The Independent Online

Four years ago, Mike Linley, an award-winning British film producer and conservationist, made a critically acclaimed film called Frogs: The Movie. Yesterday he appeared in an Australian court, charged with trying to smuggle hundreds of frogs and reptiles out of the country in his luggage.

Mr Linley was arrested at Perth airport in Western Australia on Monday after more than 200 live reptiles and frogs were found in two suitcases, together with insects.

Prosecutors told Perth magistrates' court he admitted to customs officials that he knew his actions were illegal.

Mr Linley has made nearly 100 wildlife films and won a number of international awards for conservation. He was not required to enter a plea yesterday, but prosecutors said he was likely to plead guilty at his next appearance later this month. He was released on bail on condition that he surrendered his passport and reported to police three times a week.

The animals found in his luggage included frill-necked lizards, geckos, snakes, frogs, skinks and cockroaches.

Conservation officers are hoping to release the animals back into the wild. An investigator with Western Australia's Conservation Department said some of the females were laying eggs when they were found.