The Burmese python (Python bivittatus) is a vulnerable (IUCN listed) constrictor native to southern and south-eastern Asia. Previously considered to be a sub-species of Indian python, their newly-recognised status reflects growing concern for decreasing wild populations as a result of illicit trade in meat and skins.
Climate modelling (CLIMATCH) between the natural global range of Burmese pythons and Australia was applied to determine the probability of establishment of a wild population in Tasmania. Analysis showed an unsuitable environmental match throughout the state (score 0 -2). This key factor, together with the species’ inability to withstand cold, strongly suggests Burmese python would be unable to survive the state’s temperate conditions.
This species is listed by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) under Appendix II; and protected throughout Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and China.
The Burmese python is a species permitted for live import to Australia under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999. Therein, as recognition of their status as a “serious risk” Burmese pythons are only permitted for non-commercial purpose and holding by high security facilities (e.g. zoological facilities).
Following the initial risk assessment, the Department considers permitting the importation of animals assessed as ‘serious risk’ into the State as long as appropriate mitigation measures, enforced through a wildlife exhibition licence, can be identified and applied.
Mitigation options to reduce the risk associated with importing Burmese pyhthon include:
1. Limiting importation to registered wildlife parks or zoos to ensure the holding facility meets the stringent keeping standards Tasmania applies to all institutions.
2. Restricting importation by the wildlife parks or zoos to single sex animals, to ensure that no breeding of the species can occur.
3. Requiring any wildlife park or zoo to submit a Burmese pyhthon species management plan (including enclosure details) prior to import.
4. The wildlife exhibition facility can clearly demonstrate they have proficient keepers for that particular species.