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In pictures: Endangered species seized by Border Forces
15 November 2013
Last updated at 08:35 GMT
More endangered animal items were confiscated at the UK border in the year up to April 2013 than in any other year, the Home Office has said.
More endangered animal items were confiscated at the UK border in the year up to April 2013 than in any other year, the Home Office has said. Items seized included hippo teeth, walrus horns, tortoises, eight live big cats and a Rolls Royce upholstered in alligator skin.
Here are a bear skull and stuffed birds of prey which were seized by UK Border Force staff. The items, which are either forbidden to be imported into the UK or have incorrect documentation, were impounded by Border Force staff operating under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
In this jar are a collection of dried seahorses. Grant Miller, the senior officer on the Border Force CITES team, said: "We have everything from rhino horn to ivory to the taxidermy items and marine species that we see being brought back into the UK, both in passengers' luggage - but more importantly, and in large quantities, through freight."
There has been an increasing use of endangered species in bodybuilding supplements and facial creams, a border official said. A total of 690 items were seized. That was up from 509 items the year before and included 3,890kg (8,570lbs) of medicine containing extracts of endangered species, 326 ivory items and 93 live animals.
Trade is increasing in places like China and Vietnam but the UK's position as a global hub means CITES goods often come through its borders. This year, 500kg (1,100lbs) of face cream containing caviar extract - the export of which is restricted - were discovered being imported from China, while 126,000 pots of "Detonate" and 15,120 of "CRAZE" - bodybuilding supplements containing the rare orchid Dendrobium - were seized en route from the US.
In May, a Manchester man received six months in prison for trying to import 750kg (1650lbs) of live coral from Vietnam. Mr Miller said: "The market is evolving - there is more demand from a wider set of consumers. From the traditional Chinese medicine products that we used to see we're now seeing new age beauty products, the health and fitness slimming pills, that are having endangered species within their ingredients."
Immigration minister Mark Harper said: "Organised criminal gangs will smuggle anything if they think there is a profit to be made and animal products can be worth millions of pounds on the black market. The fact that this trade is contributing to the threat of extinction faced by many endangered species is of no interest to these ruthless traffickers."
One of the many items seized is this snake, preserved in bottle of spirits. Jan Sowa, who works with the CITES team, said: "I'm not surprised by anything anymore."
Among the more unusual confiscations made in the past are monkey skulls at Heathrow Airport, tortoise jelly and a Rolls-Royce Phantom with alligator skin upholstery.
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