A German man who stuffed 44 small lizards into his underwear before trying to board a flight has been sentenced to prison in New Zealand for plundering the country's protected species.
Hans Kurt Kubus, 58, will spend 14 weeks behind bars and must pay a 5,000 New Zealand dollar fine before being deported to Germany as soon as he is released, District Court Judge Colin Doherty ruled.
Kubus was caught by wildlife officials at Christchurch International Airport on South Island in December about to board an overseas flight with 44 geckos and skinks in a hand-sewn package concealed in his underwear.
He admitted trading in exploited species without a permit and hunting protected wildlife without authority, pleading guilty to two charges under the Wildlife Act and five under the Trade in Endangered Species Act.
Department of Conservation prosecutor Mike Bodie told the court Kubus could have faced potential maximum penalties of 500,000 New Zealand dollars and six months in prison.
Mr Bodie said 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 2,000 euros each on the European market, he noted.
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.