Officials across Europe are now beginning to realise that illegal tiger farms are not just a problem in southeast Asia, but are also operating in the middle of the EU.
TRISTAN MARTIN: ‘The first thing that hit the inspectors was the smell. It was a sweltering midsummer day in Prague, and they had just opened an unplugged freezer filled with the rotting remains of tigers, lions and cougars. Pavla Rihova, the lead environmental inspector on the scene, said she had never seen anything like it. “I have been working for the inspectorate 25 years … but the situation there was really horrible. If you can imagine: an old freezer, without electricity, full of meat and dead bodies, in the garden for two years. Absolutely incredible.” In a shed next to the house they found a freshly killed tiger, shot through the neck so as not to damage its valuable pelt. In the same room was a heavy duty cooking pot on a gas hob, filled with the unidentified meat and bones of animals.
The raid was the culmination of five years of work carried out by the Czech police, customs authorities and environmental inspectorate, who say they have uncovered an organised ring of Czech and Vietnamese criminals illegally killing and processing protected big cats for the traditional Chinese medicine market. Officials across Europe are now beginning to realise that illegal tiger farms are not just a problem in south-east Asia, but are also operating in the middle of the EU. The trail of evidence began in early 2013, when customs inspectors found a bag of tiger bones in the van of a Vietnamese man who claimed he had received them from a breeding facility in Slovakia. A few months later, the skeletons of two tigers were found concealed within a set of loudspeakers being exported to Hanoi’. SOURCE…