Stuffed 10-day old tiger cub found in UK police raid on dealer
Lying defenceless in the wild, this 10-day-old tiger cub was killed by poachers and then sold on the thriving black market in Britain.
The cub was so young when it was seized it would have been unable to open his eyes.
After being smuggled to the UK, the baby tiger was stuffed and sold in London for £20,000.
Sitting on a plinth, the cub was part of a collection of species being used in a hard-hitting police campaign to tackle the illegal trade of endangered species.
As Scotland Yard launched Operation Charm yesterday, officers said they will be targeting Chinese medicine shops which sell products made from endangered animals.
Demand for medicines made from tiger bone, rhino horn and bear bile is putting some of the world’s rarest species at risk of extinction.
Hard-hitting posters aimed at preventing the sale of these remedies will be put up as part of the clampdown.
Largely as a result of illegal trade, there are estimated to be fewer than 5,000 tigers left in the wild, down from 100,000 in 1900.
At least one per day is being poached to satisfy the growing demand for tiger bone in Chinese remedies.
Since 1970, 98 per cent of the black rhinos in the world have been wiped out because of demand for their horn – a trade driven by Chinese medicine.
Detectives say that while most of London’s Chinese medicine retailers are reputable and do not sell illegal remedies, there is a growing market that is destroying some of the world’s most endangered animals.
Andy Fisher, head of Scotland Yard’s Wildlife Crime Unit, said: ‘It is quite unacceptable that illegal acts in London are contributing to the decline of creatures like the tiger.
‘We want to stop the illegal trade in these animals in London. Anyone who persists in doing so could spend five years in prison.’
Comedian Ricky Gervais, star of The Office and Extras, has lent his support to the campaign.
‘I find it incredible that anyone would want to buy a product containing endangered animals,’ he said.
‘It’s not just illegal, it’s sick and perverse. And don’t think you can ease you conscience with ‘It was already dead’ or ‘It’s old or second hand’.
‘To purchase such goods is perpetuating and endorsing the market in killing species. Report any activity you think is linked to such revolting business.’
The campaign also has the support of the Chinese community and Britain’s leading wildlife charities.
Barry Gardiner, minister for Biodiversity, Landscape and Rural Affairs said: ‘This operation sends a clear message to the criminals who seek to profit from trading in endangered species.
‘Their activities will not be tolerated. They will be investigated, prosecuted, and punished.’
The operation scored a success last month when the prestigious gentlemen’s barbers, George F Trumper, which has served the Royal Family, was fined £10,000 for dealing in illegal ivory goods.
Earlier this month, police seized a number of fur coats believed to have been made from endangered species form a fur dealer in north London.
A total of eight coats were seized including one believed to have been made from tiger fur and others made from a leopard and a snow leopard.
Dealer Robert Sclare, who stuffed the animals from a shop in north London, was jailed for six months in 2000 after police discovered 65 rare species including a wolf, gorilla and chimpanzee.