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1. Is he “Australia’s version of Cecil the Lion?”
A Sydney-based millionaire businessman has been flooded with hate mail after Fairfax Media printed photos of him posing with a dead wombat he had shot, and a second photo of another wombat he had hunted and shot bleeding from a gunshot wound to its stomach.
Successful car dealer Tony Azzi posed in the images with a rifle over his shoulder, smiling and pointing at the wombat.
According to Fairfax Media Mr Azzi is being investigated over allegations that he used a high-powered rifle and semi-automatic pistols to kill wombats and other native fauna.
The investigation is being conducted by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
The photos were allegedly taken on Mr Azzi’s country property Murrumbank, at Bookham, near Yass, about 300km south of Sydney in 2011 and 2013.
The car dealer who recently bought a $14 million waterfront mansion in Elizabeth Bay, owns the Larke Hoskins car dealerships in the Sydney suburbs of Rosebery and Homebush.
Under law wombats are classified as protected fauna and it is a criminal offence to harm them.
Mr Azzi responded to the allegations he had broken the law by writing on his Facebook page “I have and will continue as a matter of responsible land management eradicate (sic) feral pests from my land.
“Cats, foxes, rabbits and other animals are known to destroy flora and kill native animals by the tens-of-millions each year, and as a licensed gun owner it is my responsibility to keep them off my land.”
“For the record, I do not kill native animals, and any suggestion that I do is wrong. On one occasion I terminated the life of a seriously injured wombat” he wrote.
The RSPCA’s chief inspector, David O’Shannessy told Fairfax Media his organisation was opposed to the hunting of any animal for sport.
“What makes this particular case so much worse is the fact that the animal involved is a protected native animal.”
2. Neighbours actress who snatched son back from her former husband is in police custody.
Former neighbours actress Eliza Szonert, who snatched her young son from her former partner in Malaysia last week, with the help of a child recovery agency, was being held in police custody in Malaysia last night but had not been officially arrested reports Fairfax Media.