Wildlife Watch

Crime Blotter: Tiger Teeth, Snow Leopards, and Golden Eagles

A weekly roundup of wildlife crimes.

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Indonesian police seized this tiger skin, which was preserved for illegal sale. 

Every Sunday, Wildlife Watch notes some of the previous week’s wildlife crime busts and convictions around the world.

TIGER PEDDLING: Posing as buyers, authorities caught a pair of “prominent wildlife criminals” in southwestern Sumatra trying to sell tiger skins, bones, and teeth,” reports Mongabay. Police said they’ve been following their illegal activities since 2011 and that they’ve already sold eight Sumatran tigers.

IVORY SMUGGLING: Police arrested four people at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport suspected of smuggling ivory to China, announced the African Wildlife Foundation. Ivory detection dogs at the airport led authorities to ivory hidden in luggage. 

WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING: A professor at St. Cloud State University, in Minnesota, pleaded guilty to smuggling ivory and rhino horn products worth up to $1.5 million from the U.S. to China, according to StarTribune. His attorney said his client failed to obtain the appropriate permits to deal in goods containing the animal parts. He added that the products are 50 to 100 years old.  

ELEPHANT POACHING: Police in Harare, Zimbabwe, arrested a businessman believed to be the leader of an elephant poaching syndicate, reports AllAfrica. The group allegedly used fake documents to smuggle six ivory tusks stolen from Zimbabwe’s parks department to Asia. The suspect has a hunting concession in the country’s Muzarabani district. 

MONKEY KILLING: Forest protection officers in Nghe An, a central province in Vietnam, announced that a man accused of slaughtering six protected monkeys has been fined $234, says Thanhnien News. The man confessed to killing the monkeys and 12 cats to make a “glue-like product” believed to have medicinal properties. Park rangers are investigating whether the convict is linked to an organized wildlife trading ring.

SNOW LEOPARD POACHING: Police in China’s Quinhai province nabbed five people suspected of poaching endangered animals, according to Business Standard. Authorities seized the bodies of two snow leopards, one golden eagle, six bharals (also known as a Himalayan blue sheep), six goitered gazelles, and three argali sheep in the suspects’ homes. The publication reports that under Chinese law, a person convicted of poaching can receive a life sentence.

Fact of the Week: Only about 500 Sumatran tigers, a critically endangered species, exist in the wild.

This story was produced by National Geographic’s Special Investigations Unit, which focuses on wildlife crime and is made possible by grants from the BAND Foundation and the Woodtiger Fund. Read more stories from the SIU on Wildlife Watch. Send tips, feedback and story ideas to ngwildlife@ngs.org.

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