A 56 year old woman from Thornaby, Cleveland has received a caution for buying and selling derivatives of endangered species, including tiger claws. Officers from the National Wildlife Crime Unit identified a trader on Ebay who appeared to be selling tiger claws without the required permits. The seller was subsequently identified. On 18th April 2016 officers from the NWCU and Cleveland Police executed a search warrant at her home address in Thornaby. During the search the officers recovered two Sperm whale teeth and two carved elephant ivory tusks, which appeared to be modern.
All the items were derivatives of species that are included on Annex ‘A’ and the trade in such specimens is prohibited, unless there is an exemption certificate, or the items are antique and considered worked. To meet the ‘worked’ derogation, the specimen must have been significantly altered from its original raw state for the purpose of art, jewellery, adornment, utility or musical instrument, and it must not require any further working. Any carving must have taken place prior to 3rd March 1947.
The claws that had been sold by the woman did not meet the worked derogation. However she explained that she had had an antique tiger rug and before she sold it she had removed the claws in order to sell them separately. Records showed that the rug was worked and had actually been prepared in 1937, so it did meet the conditions of the worked derogation. However, the claws that had been removed did not.
She admitted that the sales of the claws was illegal, but claimed she had not fully understood the legislation. She accepted that she had purchased un-worked Sperm whale teeth and that there had not been any permits to cover the transaction.
She also said that she had purchased the carved tusks and although they were carved and worked, she accepted that they were unlikely to have been pre-1947.
In view of the lady’s previous good character and the circumstances of the case, she was given the benefit of a Police caution. All items were signed over to the Police for disposal.