This tiny tiger cub was so young when it was seized by poachers it would not have been able to open its eyes.
The defenseless newborn was brutally plucked from the wild and killed and sold on London’s thriving black market for a staggering £20,000.
Starring innocently from its plinth it is one of two ‘decorative’ stuffed tiger cubs seized by police from a dealer in Islington, London, several years ago.
The desperate cub was unveiled at London’s City Hall this morning by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), which has helped save the threatened Metropolitan Police’s Wildlife Crime Unit from cuts in an £100,000 deal.
The unit has warned that animal trafficking is a ‘major source of revenue’ for criminals.
It is the first time a charity has directly funded a Met Police unit and it is hoped it will lead to more staff being recruited and trained in how to tackle wildlife crime.
Police say international crime gangs are attracted to bear bile and tiger parts which are used in some traditional Asian medicines.
They say due to the numbers of rich Asians living in the London, the capital has a market for smuggled animal products.
And, one of the biggest wildlife crimes threats is the demand for rhino horn which some people mistakenly believe can cure cancer.
WSPA UK head of external affairs Simon Pope said: ‘Without the specialist skills and knowledge of the WCU, wildlife crime in London could flourish.
‘This is not some niche, illicit trade carried out by petty part-time villains.
‘It is a major source of revenue for a global network of hardened criminals, gangs and drug lords – all growing rich from the trafficking of wildlife and none about to have a crisis of conscience and stop what they are doing.’
Also on display at today’s launch was £200,000 worth of rhino horn and a three metre long polar bear skin.
The force has seized more than 30,000 items from endangered species since 1995.
In 2008 officers discovered thousands of pounds worth of raw ivory products, some manufactured in the UK, which included 24 whole elephant tusks. The world’s largest seizure of rhino horn was in Kensington, London.
Sergeant Ian Knox, head of the WCU, added: ‘I am delighted that the World Society for the Protection of Animals has decided to contribute a significant amount of money to the Wildlife Crime Unit.
‘The extra funding will pay for more staff so we can be more proactive in targeting criminals who seek to exploit animals for financial gain.
‘We will also be able to provide additional support and training to Wildlife Crime Officers across London which will ensure that the Met has the capability to tackle crimes against animals in the future.’