Glos Police join fight against wild animal trade

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Glos Police join fight against wild animal trade

Gloucestershire Police Team Up With Nigel Marven To Fight The Illegal Trade In Wild Animals

Gloucestershire Police and the RSPCA have teamed up with well-known naturalist and TV presenter Nigel Marven to draw public attention to the illegal trade of endangered species in the county.

Nigel, the popular Naturalist, Filmmaker and Presenter of ITV's Prehistoric Park, BBC's Sea Monsters and Channel Five's Rhino Adventure and Big Cats, kindly agreed to take in two tortoises recovered at the beginning of September 2006 following a joint investigation by Gloucestershire Constabulary and the RSPCA.

The enquiry was launched after police received reports that two very young Mediterranean Spur-Thighed Tortoises (testudo graeca sp), believed to have been taken from the wild, had been sold, illegally, in a Cirencester pub.

A 19 year-old man and 23 year-old woman were spoken to by police as a result, and it became clear that they had bought the tortoises from an unknown male three to four months previously.

Both individuals, who were unaware of the laws controlling the sale of protected species, co-operated fully with the investigation and no further action was taken against them. The two tortoises, which were in good condition and aged about 11 months old, were subsequently surrendered into the care of the RSPCA for re-homing.

As part of the investigation there was a need to identify the species of tortoises and officers were greatly assisted by Marc Ormond, Herpetologist at Cotswold Wildlife Park.

Marc not only identified the tortoises, he was then able to help by putting the police and the RSPCA in touch with Nigel.

Once the situation was explained to Nigel he was very keen to help by welcoming the two young tortoises into the collection of animals he keeps at his home near Bristol.

Expressing his concern about the unnecessary trading of wild animals, Nigel said, "Keeping reptiles and other exotic pets is extremely rewarding, but there's absolutely no need to remove any animal from the wild.

"Always buy from well-established, reputable suppliers of captive-bred animals; they're easy to find, and they'll always give advice on how to properly care for your pets.

"While I welcome these two new arrivals I'm obviously concerned that a black-market trade in protected species continues."

PC Jon Palfrey, of Cirencester police, said: "Although this story ended well, with the two tortoises going to a good home, it is important to raise public awareness of the illegal international trade in endangered species.

"Offences were committed in the sale of these tortoises, and the actions of the male who sold them are a clear example of how the illegal trade in endangered species reaches all parts of the World.

"What might be seen as the cheaper option to obtain these animals - taking them from the wild - does not consider the cost to the environment and the animals within it. All of us must consider how our actions affect the Flora and Fauna on our planet and act accordingly."

Both Gloucestershire Constabulary and the RSPCA are appealing for the public to come forward with any information they may have in relation to any offence relating to wildlife or the international trade in endangered species.

Anyone with information about the sale of the two tortoises in Cirencester is asked to call 0845 090 1234, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, quoting incident number 258 of September 5.

Posted : 03/10/2006 21:22:20

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