Tiger discovered in Mosta
by SCOTT GRECH
It is not everyday that one comes across a Bengal tiger in one of the smallest and densest countries in Europe, but this is precisely what was discovered on Monday in a warehouse in Mosta, where a tiger cub is being kept.
Animal Welfare director Mario Spiteri said that a raid was carried out at the warehouse after the office received a number of anonymous calls regarding the sightings of a tiger on the roof of the warehouse in Mosta.
The Bengal tiger, a threatened species, is the most numerous of tiger sub-species. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), there are 2,000 Bengal tigers in the wild today.
Apart from the Animal Welfare department, the police’s Administrative Law Enforcement and the Malta Environment and Planning Authority’s Environment Protection Department also took part in the raid.
“The department is normally very sceptical about such telephone calls regarding exotic animals, for most of them are usually a hoax. All the same, much to our great surprise, this particular investigation turned out to be true”.
“However, we opted not to confiscate the tiger for now because it was obvious that the tiger’s owner takes a great deal of care in looking after the animal. It has a big enough area in which to roam in, the room is air-conditioned and the animal is fed chickens so it gets its daily requirement of lean protein. Furthermore, we have no indications as yet that it has ever bothered the owner’s neighbours or anyone from the surrounding area,” said Mr Spiteri.
Mr Spiteri remarked that although the jungle is the ideal habitat, the tiger would not feel uncomfortable living in such conditions if it has been accustomed to do so since birth.
“Abroad, there are a significant number of people who hold such species in captivity, which is why the Bengal tiger, to take a case in point, is in grave danger of becoming extinct. Female tigers are more prone to being held in captivity, for the owners often do their utmost in trying to obtain the male tiger’s sperm, with the intention that their female tiger will later have cubs. These cubs are then sold at an excessively high price to other interested parties,” explained Mr Spiteri.
Hunters normally kill tigers not only for their skin, but also for body parts used to make various traditional East Asian medicines. Moreover, the hunting for Chinese medicine and fur is the biggest cause of the decline of the tigers.
However, Mr Spiteri said that the owner’s intentions so far have not been revealed.