25 Nov 2004, 03:44:43 PM

Wildlife smuggling is growing, spurred on by a huge black market.

In the past 12 months customs has busted around nine couriers trying to smuggle wildlife out of Australia - everything from bird eggs and lizards to rare tortoises.

While birds can fetch up to tens of thousands of dollars on the international black market the penalties are just as high. Smugglers risk becoming birds themselves - jail birds.

If you would like to report illegal smuggling to Customs contact their hotline on 1800 06 1800