Eunectes murinus, also known as the Green anaconda, is a semi-aquatic constrictor native to wet systems of tropical South America. There are no confirmed populations outside of their natural geographic range (Reed & Rodder 2009a). This large serpent is protected under CITES against wildlife trade; however, is still targeted for skin, meat, medicine and the pet trade, and victim to fear-based killing by locals (Rivas 2007; Miranda et al 2016). The species is considered data-deficient so not currently listed under IUCN.
Based on climatic analysis (CLIMATCH), probability of Green anaconda survival and establishment of free-ranging populations in the wild would be limited to a band of northern mainland Australia. Climate modelling comparing the Green anaconda's natural geographic range with that of Tasmania revealed a distinct lack of suitable habitat (around 0 – 3; maximum 6), further reduced by the species’ dependence on waterways and lack of adaptations to the cold. These biological limitations of the tropical Green anaconda strongly suggest they would be unlikely to survive wild in the temperate climate of Tasmania.
Green anaconda are approved for live import under permit to Australia (under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999) for non-commercial purpose only and holding in secure facilities such as zoos. As a prudent mitigation measure, this same restriction would be appropriate for permitted import of Green anacondas to Tasmania.
The risk assessment determined that the Green anaconda is moderately dangerous to humans, has a low establishment risk in Tasmania but with a low consequence of establishment should that occur. By taking these factors into account, the assessment concluded that the risk posed by importing Green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) into Tasmania is moderate.
Following the initial risk assessment, the Department considers permitting the importation of animals assessed as ‘moderate 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 Green anaconda include:
- Limiting importation to registered wildlife parks or zoos to ensure the holding facility meets the stringent keeping standards Tasmania applies to all institutions.
- Restricting importation by the wildlife parks or zoos to single sex animals, to ensure that no breeding of the species can occur.
- Requiring any wildlife park or zoo to submit a Green anaconda species management plan (including enclosure details) prior to import.
- The wildlife exhibition facility can clearly demonstrate they have proficient keepers for that particular species.