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Protecting endangered species from illegal trade

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What actions does a zoo or wildlife park need to consider when an animal in their care passes away? The obvious issues that spring to mind are:

  • What was the cause of death?
  • Is there a risk to other animals?
  • Is there a risk to human health?

There is also a less obvious question that needs to be addressed. Does the departed animal belong to an endangered species? If the answer is yes, there are a number of considerations to take into account on what should happen to the animal’s remains.

Risk management

Let’s look at the obvious considerations first.

What was the cause of death?

In short, does the deceased animal have a communicable disease? If the answer is yes, then the deceased remains and bedding need to be treated and processed as Category 2 Animal by Products. Our recommended service is incineration. This will reduce the risk to other animals.

Is there a risk to human health?

In much the same way as above, if the animal has a disease that can be passed to people then the remains are classified as Category 1 Animal by Products. Therefore, it is more important to incinerate the remains.

Protecting against the illegal trade of endangered species

The less obvious reason is to help protect against the illegal wildlife trade. For example, there is an ongoing illegal trade in tiger’s teeth, claws and pelt. To ensure that there is not chance of these items entering the black market it is important that we destroy them.

Individual Animal Cremation

We have the capacity to cremate large animals and have conducted individual cremations for animals such as tigers, rhino, cheetahs and even an elephant to name but a few. It is common for us to receive a range of requests which we will always attempt to accommodate; such as allowing a witness to ensure the cremation takes place. We also recognise that the animal’s keeper will have formed a close bond; it’s not surprising that many keepers have attended the cremation of their former charge.

According to the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora the growth in the illegal trade of endangered species continues at an alarming rate. Unfortunately making it more important for any animal welfare business to ensure that their wards are treated with the dignity whilst removing any possibility of any parts entering the black market.

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