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Wednesday, March 11, 1998 Published at 15:06 GMT


Police raid stuffed animal kingdom
image: [ This tiger cub was found in the taxidermist shop ]
This tiger cub was found in the taxidermist shop

The Metropolitan Police have made what is believed to be one of the largest-ever hauls of dead endangered species in Britain.

A newborn tiger cub was among the 65 different species seized from a taxidermy shop in north London.

[ image: Birds were also found in the shop]
Birds were also found in the shop
It included an adult tiger, a wolf, a huge Green turtle, a griffon vulture and an elephant's foot.

The shop and three other premises were raided by officers who spent 11 hours looking at the samples, many of which are believed to be illegal.

Inspector John Farmer: "Some have probably been taken illegally from the wild" (0'14")
The male owner, who has not been named, has been interviewed by and could face charges.

Police were alerted following a tip-off from members of the public involved in the World Wildlife Fund Eyes and Ears campaign.

Inspector John Francis, Central London Wildlife Officer, said 20 officers were involved in the raids as part of Operation Charm, an initiative against London's illegal trade in endangered species. He said it was impossible to put a value on the haul.

[ image: Police were alerted by the World Wildlife Fund]
Police were alerted by the World Wildlife Fund
"The vast majority of taxidermists do operate quite legally, but there are also some who are less scrupulous," he continued.

"There is quite a big trade in these sort of items and clearly there is a living to be made out of it. Everything we seized was displayed quite prominently in the shop."

Lucy Farmer, from the World Wildlife Fund, said although no value could be put on the items, the rarer the specimen the higher price collectors would pay.

Lucy Farmer, from the WWF: "Wildlife trade on our doorsteps" (0'17)
"Some of the species involved are among the most endangered in the world. And one of the major threats to these species is illegal trade.

"This shows that it is not just happening abroad, it is happening right on our doorstep."

The taxidermist was interviewed in connection with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). He has not been arrested.

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