Tiger Trade Exposed In Prague
Three men allegedly involved in the sale of illegal tiger parts were arrested in a raid dubbed ‘operation trophy’ on July 16, 2018, in Prague.
Photo: Public Domain
The raid uncovered a criminal trade ring that involved illegal breeding and slaughter of tigers, conducted to supply a growing demand for traditional Chinese medicines within European and Asian black markets. The illegal animal parts were recovered by Czech authorities with the backing of more than 200 enforcement officers from customs, police and the Czech Environmental Inspectorate (CEI).
The three arrested suspects included an illegal taxidermist; well-known circus owner Ludvík Berousek, who was accused of breeding and supplying the tigers and a Vietnamese businessman who was accused of organizing the sale in Sapa, a large Vietnamese market place on the southern outskirts of Prague and a zoo park in Doksy in north Bohemia.
“In recent years, we have observed an increase in the illegal export of tigers and other felines from the Czech Republic. This is because there is quite a large Asian community living in the Czech Republic and there is a substantial demand for tiger products in that region.” said Erik Geuss, head of the Czech Environmental Inspectorate, in a report carried out by RadioPraha.
“There are currently around 400 tigers registered by CITES in the Czech Republic but only around 40 of them live in zoological gardens. And while tigers kept in zoos live to around the age of 20, those kept by private breeders only live around five years.” said Geuss.
The incident was brought to light with the recovery of a fresh-killed tiger along with skins and pelts of other big cats and frozen bodies of various other endangered species of animals.
Robert Šlachta from the Customs Directorate disclosed further details at a press conference stating, “The tiger we discovered was shot in the eye and in the neck, so that the skin would stay intact and could be sold on the black market. According to our information, the cooking of the tiger meat took five to twelve days and all parts of the animal, including the pelts, teeth or claws, were intended for commercial purposes.”
Source says: Radio Praha, Environmental Investigation Agency