Link to BBC Homepage

Front Page

UK

World

Business

Sci/Tech

Sport

Despatches

World News in Audio


On Air

Cantonese

Talking Point

Feedback

Low Graphics

Help

Site Map

Thursday, March 26, 1998 Published at 17:29 GMT



Despatches
image: [ BBC Correspondent: Orla Guerin ]Orla Guerin
Rome

In Italy, animal welfare organisations are increasingly concerned about an illegal trade in rare species, including lions, tigers and birds of prey, organised by the Mafia. The lucrative trade is centred around the southern city of Naples and run largely by the Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra.

Guns and drugs are the usual currency of the Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra. But these days criminal gangs in the Southern port city have a new interest: exotic breeds of animals.

Police in Naples thought they had seen it all, that is until they encountered Simba. The three-year-old lion named after a character in an animated Walt Disney film, was discovered in the gardens of a luxury villa, which was home to a Camorra boss.

Simba was not alone. He was surrounded by rare parrots, monkeys, snakes and some pitbull terriers.

Another Camorra chief, now jailed, kept a python. These rare species are not just the latest status symbols for Camorra bosses.

Buying and selling them is big business. The scale of the problem is just coming to light.

The World Wild Life Fund, WWF, estimates that there are two hundred big cats - lions, tigers and leopards - in the possession of the Camorra and other criminal groups in and around Naples.

The Italian animal protection league believes the trade in exotic animals is worth several million pounds.





Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage

©

Link to BBC Homepage

  Relevant Stories

06 Mar 98 | Despatches
Saving Kenya's tuskers

 
  Internet Links

WWF


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
 
In this section

Historic day for East Timor





Despatches Contents