Australian bush resort probed for wombat shooting tours

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A bush resort in Australia that lured tourists with the promise of shooting wombats and other native wildlife with military weapons is under police investigation, authorities said Wednesday.

Squat and furry, wombats are small burrow-dwelling marsupials that are largely nocturnal and walk on all fours

Victoria police and the state’s environment department told AFP Wednesday that  they were probing activities at a former cattle station a two-hour drive north of Melbourne that is owned by a controversial China-born businessman.

Chinese language ads posted on WeChat for the Juijui Resort offers a Aus$1,000 (US$690) two-day, one-night hunting experience with luxury transfers from Melbourne.The adverts list an address in the town of Murrindindi, which property records show is an Aus$7.5 million estate owned by Tom Zhou.

Farmers can apply for permits to kill native animals such as wombats which are a protected species  but those found guilty of illegally shooting wildlife face fines and up to two years’ jail.

A Nine News investigation earlier alleged that Melbourne-based Zhou had a business organising junkets for Chinese tourists to visit Australian casinos, with links to organised crime and the Chinese Communist Party.

The reports have sparked a separate investigation into whether immigration officials illegally smoothed the way for “VVIP” Chinese high rollers.