German Iguana Smuggler Gets 4 Years!

German national Dirk Bender, 32, finally got his just desserts.   He was sentenced to 4 years in prison (the maximum penalty) on Monday this week, after having been found guilty of attempting to smuggle out very rare and endemic Land Iguanas from Galapagos last July.   He has been held in pre-trial custody in Galapagos since then, but will now be moved to Guayaquil to satisfy the judgment.  His time already spent in custody will be deducted from the sentence, meaning he's looking at a July 2016 release from prison. 

Mr. Bender had been caught doing the same thing in Fiji in 2011, trying to smuggle local reptiles out of that country.   One wonders how many times he has been successful in doing so at other places.    Clearly, the Fiji experience did not discourage him from continuing this abhorrent practice.  CNH Tours hopes that Ecuador's environmental justice will be more successful, and congratulates the lawyers and judges involved in applying a law that too often is disregarded or considered unimportant.

The illegal trade of protected species around the world contributes to the decline in population numbers for many rare plants and animals.  Most of these die while being smuggled, but the practice continues.    These species are best observed where they live, not in people's homes as conversation pieces.   

For more information on illegal wildlife trade, consult TRAFFIC (The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network - 


Below:  Dirk Bender goes to trial on Monday, February 4th, 2013

Dirk Bender Goes to Jail


Below,, the CNH Tours "Picture of the Year', the moment Dirk Bender gets caught by the authorities, in July 2012:

Dirk Bender