Lion skin seized at port

OFFICIALS at Felixstowe port seized an unusual illegal item found in a container - the skin of a young male lion.

OFFICIALS at Felixstowe port seized an unusual illegal item found in a container - the skin of a young male lion.

The two metre long golden skin from the endangered creature was found among a person's shipment of belongings sent over from South Africa.

It was seized by officers from the UK Border Agency, who today warned people that international law to protect animals and the environment would be enforced.

Jim Jarvie from UK Border Agency (UKBA) said it was a “good quality skin” stretched out on a felt backing and probably intended for use as a rug.

In addition to the lion skin officers also discovered the head of a rare oryx.

The head had been prepared with hanging hooks for use as a decorative wall feature.

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“UKBA along with our colleagues in HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) take the role in enforcing international agreements and prohibitions designed to preserve our natural environment very seriously,” said Mr Jarvie.

“Anyone tempted to trade in protected creatures and plants should think again. If you have any information on this illegal trade you can ring our 24 hour hotline number on 0800 59 5000.”

The container arrived at Felixstowe port on September 21.

The lion and the oryx are both endangered species and need export permits from the country of origin and import permits to the EU.

Most seizures are destroyed for health and safety reasons but because these were both in good condition they will be used for educational purposes.

Meanwhile, customs officers are still investigating.

Both the animals are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

The UK along with another 162 countries around the globe has agreed to protect endangered animals and plants from exploitation.

The agreement covers the trade in plants and animals that are alive or dead, and even from products that derive from them. This includes certain Chinese medicines whose ingredients often contain tiger bone, bear bile and the musk glands from deer.

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