UK revealed as a key location in wildlife smuggling

Report on wildlife smuggling mentions key UK destinations

Source: Paul Brown
Guardian December 9 2002 p9

Traffic, an organization aiming to detect wildlife crime, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have released a report, 'Switching Channels ' on smuggling protected wild species. The report cites three key channels in Britain, Heathrow, Manchester and Gatwick airports, and Waterloo International. Plants are affected, as well as animals, with 21,600 tree ferns found in one illegal shipment. Live hatchlings of rare species of birds have been found mixed with hatchlings of domestic chickens. Permit papers for shipments may be falsified, and smugglers may even try to secrete snakes and eggs on their bodies. The trade in wildlife seems to have attracted drug smugglers and the Russian mafia, using existing routes also used for smuggling weapons, humans, and drugs. Routes may be complex, involving wildlife passing through several countries before they reach the UK. Some countries are particularly involved in smuggling wildlife. They include the United Arab Emirates, where endangered species can be purchased freely at the Blue Souk and in the free trade zones.