Wildlife Watch

Crime Blotter: Temple Tigers, Monkey Heads, and More

A weekly roundup of wildlife crimes.

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Tiger cubs at play at Thailand’s Tiger Temple. A newly released report alleges that the temple has been involved in the illegal tiger trade. 

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

TIGER REMOVAL: Five tigers have been removed from Thailand’s famed Tiger Temple, according to Coconuts Bangkok, which cited a Facebook post by the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand. Thailand’s Department of National Parks has been trying to confiscate the temple’s tigers since April 2015 on that grounds that they’re state property, which makes it illegal to earn tourist money from them. Last week, National Geographic reported new allegations that the temple, which had housed 147 tigers, has been involved in the illegal trade of the species.

CROCODILE POACHING: Border police in South China seized 70 frozen wild Siamese crocodiles and 88 crocodile tails from a seafood freight truck, reports China Daily. They were seized at a checkpoint at the China-Vietnam border city of Fangchenggang.

IVORY SEIZURE: Security personnel seized a total of 1,340 pieces of banned ivory at Dubai International Airport, according to the Khaleej Times. The items were taken from passengers in transit through Dubai on their way to East Asia, says Colonel Hamooda Al Amri, director of the airport’s security department.

MONKEY HEAD SALES: A man from London was sentenced to 14 months in prison for advertising endangered wildlife parts on eBay, Mongabay says. He pleaded guilty to offering to sell the heads of four leaf monkeys, two leopard cat skulls, 134 primate parts (including hands), and the skeleton of an infant crab-eating macaque. The wildlife was imported from Indonesia.

IVORY SHOP CLOSURES: The government shut down 13 of 24 ivory shops in northern Thailand’s Nakhon Sawan Province, reports Khaosod English, a Bangkok-based news site. The shops couldn’t prove that they were selling legal ivory. The site notes that every ivory shop in Thailand must be inspected by the end of March as part of the government’s effort to comply with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the international body that sets wildlife trade policy. 

FALCON SURVIVAL: A falcon egg stolen from its nest in Chile to be trafficked to Dubai has survived and hatched a chick, The Guardian says. Authorities arrested a previously convicted wildlife smuggler at Brazil’s Sao Paulo airport and found him with four albino peregrine falcon eggs, a species native to the Patagonia region at the southern tip of South America. The other three eggs never hatched. Officials estimate that the eggs would have fetched $80,000 on the black market, according to the publication.

Fact of the Week: Tiger parts “are now consumed less as medicine and more as exotic luxury products,” according to a 2014 report commissioned by CITES.

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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