Man Facing Jail in Slovakia for Illicitly Importing ‘Canned’ Tiger Trophy

Stephen Wiggins Article 3 Comments

The Slovakian man, Jan K with the tiger” and banner image courtesy of @policiaslovakia/Newsflash


Flemming Emil Hanson (Zenger, 26 January 2021) reports that “A hunter is facing up to five years in jail for killing an endangered tiger in South Africa, importing it to Slovakia” and then using it “in violation of the law to promote business activities in connection with the mediation of hunting in the Republic of South Africa” (Slovakian Police fb Page – 19 January 2021):

He [Jan K] illegally caught and imported a tiger from the Republic of South Africa: he faces up to five years in prison.

The investigator of the Department for Detection of Hazardous Substances and Environmental Crime of the Criminal Police Bureau of the Presidium of the Slovak Police Force accused Jan K. from the village of Žiharec in the Šaľa district, south of Slovakia, of violating plant and animal protection under Section 305 of the Criminal Code because he has caught the jungle tiger (Panthera tigris) for commercial purposes in South Africa contrary to Council Regulation (EC) no. 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein [which includes threats posed to wild species from captive breeding activities of course, tiger (Panthera tigris) being an EU Annex A/CITES Appendix I* listed species – the highest categorisation available and listed as “Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

* “Appendix I lists species that are the most endangered among CITES-listed animals and plants (see Article II, paragraph 1 of the Convention). They are threatened with extinction and CITES prohibits international trade in specimens of these species except when the purpose of the import is not commercial (see Article III), for instance for scientific research. In these exceptional cases, trade may take place provided it is authorized by the granting of both an import permit and an export permit (or re-export certificate). Article VII of the Convention provides for a number of exemptions to this general prohibition”CITES].

Subsequently in violation of Council Regulation no. 338/97 he had imported it into the territory of the Slovak Republic without the relevant import permit issued by the Ministry of the Environment of the Slovak Republic and kept it in a family house without being able to prove the method of its acquisition.

At the same time, he used the tiger in violation of the law to promote business activities in connection with the mediation of hunting in the Republic of South Africa. The total social value of the jungle tiger specimen was calculated by the Scientific Body of the Slovak Republic of the State Nature Protection of the Slovak Republic at EUR 28,000.

According to Section 305 /Breach of Plant and Animal Species Protection Regulations/ any person who, in breach of generally binding legal regulations on nature and landscape protection, or generally binding legal regulations on specimen protection through the regulation of trade in them on a larger scale, a) acquires for himself or procures for another a protected animal or a protected plant, or to a large extent procures for another their specimen, b) cultivates, breeds, processes, imports or exports protected plants or protected animals, or specimens, or trafficks in them, or otherwise misappropriates them, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of between six months and three years. The offender shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of one to five years if he commits the offence referred to in paragraphs 1, 2 or 3 on a considerable scale

Of course, the canned/captive breeding of tigers in South Africa has been ignored by South Africa’s Department: Environmental Affairs (DEA) for years – A 2015 TRAFFIC/Wildcru report, “Bones of Contention” estimated there were at the time 280 tigers in 44 facilities in South Africa and recommended “Investigate the Tiger trade in South Africa, including an assessment of the ex situ population, consumptive and non-consumptive utilization, national and provincial legislation with respect to keeping and hunting exotic animals, and, the inappropriate use of CITES Appendix II permit to trade products” – these recommendations are yet to be heeded within South Africa’s Department: Environmental Affairs (DEA) and/or CITES:

Today there are undoubtedly far more, but because tiger breeding doesn’t have to be reported, numbers are hard to establish.

Because they’re not an indigenous species, trade in tigers is unregulated and flying below the radar of the DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs). When asked about it by Ban Animal Trading and the EMS Foundation, the DEA response was that tigers weren’t the department’s responsibility because they’re “exotics”…..Despite welfare issues, cruelty, illegality and violation of conservation principles, South Africa has turned a blind eye to tiger farming. According to the NSPCA, owning a pet tiger is legal in Gauteng and animal welfare groups can do nothing about it.

Under the Animal Protection Act and the by-laws, we have no grounds to confiscate,” Boksburg SPCA Maggie Mudd told The Citizen newspaper.

It doesn’t make sense that I need a permit to keep a tortoise but I can keep a tiger”” – “Tiger Breeding in South Africa,” IWB (author: Don Pinnock, Daily Maverick), 23 April 2018

The Extinction Business, South Africa’s ‘Lion’ Bone Trade” (EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading, July 2018) where the conclusion is:

South Africa’s lion bone trade has “….created a situation where the legal trade in ‘lion’ bones is fuelling the illegal trade in lion and tiger bones and providing laundering opportunities for tiger bones in Asian markets.

…there are concerns that tiger bones from South Africa are being laundered as lion bones” – CITES SC70, Doc. 54.1, page 12, para 1, October 2018

What should not be in doubt, is that South Africa is in contravention of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – tigers are being bred in South Africa with commercial intent, not conservation:

“Tiger breeding and export in South Africa appears to violate the country’s commitment to CITES regulations. If tigers are being bred for international trade in establishments without accreditation, it’s in violation of CITES Resolution Conf. 12.10, which requires registration of Appendix I breeding facilities operating for commercial purposes. There’s also CITES [2007] Decision 14.69, which requires such facilities to ‘implement measures to restrict the captive population to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers; tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives’.

And Resolution Conf. 12.5 (Rev. CoP16, [Revised CoP18]) urges those “Parties and non-Parties in whose territories there are facilities keeping tigers and other Asian big cat species in captivity to ensure that adequate management practices and controls are in place and strictly implemented, including for the disposal of Asian big cats that die in captivity, to prevent parts and derivatives from entering illegal trade from or through such facilities“” – “Tiger Breeding in South Africa,” IWB (author: Don Pinnock, Daily Maverick), 23 April 2018

Let’s hope that this case focuses international attention on the plight of tigers and other such species bred in captivity for ‘commercial purposes’/exploitation, (which includes the trophy hunting industry despite any claims/exemptions to the contrary):

South Africa is one the world’s biggest exporters of endangered tigers, almost all of which end up as floor mats, wall hangings or skeletons submerged in vats of Asian tiger-bone wine. The trade is so lucrative that city householders in Gauteng are breeding them in their backyards” – Tiger Breeding in South Africa,” IWB (author: Don Pinnock, Daily Maverick), 23 April 2018

Further Reading

Falling through the system – The role of the European Union captive tiger population in the trade in tigers,” WWF/TRAFFIC, September 2020

Europe’s second class tigers – Revealing the out-of-control tiger numbers and commercial trade,” FOUR PAWS, March 2020

NGO Appeal for Closure of Captive Lion Breeding Industry and Associated Activities,” IWB, 9 December 2020

Urgent questions about the welfare of wildlife that Parliament needs to ask,” IWB, 26 August 2020

Urgent questions about the welfare of wildlife that Parliament needs to ask,” IWB, 26 August 2020

World Wildlife Crime Report – Trafficking in Protected Species,” IWB, 10 July 2020

Breaking Point: Uncovering South Africa’s Shameful Live Wildlife Trade with China,” IWB, 18 May 2020

The Tiger Trade,” IWB, 7 May 2020

On the Butcher’s Block – the Mekong Tiger Trade Trail,” IWB, 8 March 2020

China’s ban on wildlife consumption is an overdue death knell for lion bone industry,” IWB, 25 February 2020

Where wild things are under threat, wildlife trade needs to be dealt with,” IWB, 21 February 2019

China Announces ‘Legal Trade’ in Rhino and Tiger Products,” IWB, 30 October 2018

Increased Threat to Wildlife from Traditional Chinese Medicine,” IWB, 3 October 2018

Tiger Breeding in South Africa,” IWB, 24 April 2018

’Captive’ Lions – DEA Fails to Answer Questions Fully,” IWB and CACH, 21 August 2017

China’s Wildlife Trade is Out of Control,” IWB, 6 April 2016

South Africa’s Tiger Trade Under Scrutiny,” Annamiticus, 7 August 2015

Comments 3

  1. Tammy Hynes

    What a waste, such a beautiful, magical animal. Lives such a short life before some rich loser thinks he has the right to take that life. It honestly makes me cry that poor cat. Five years is not long enough for such a awful crime, I’m sure he’ll buy his way out if that too.

    1. Post
      Stephen Wiggins

      Tammy, Plus this tiger was bred in captivity (to serve no conservation purpose whatsoever) in South Africa (SA), to then be dragged out and killed in the name of ‘sport’ for a trophy. Tigers are also being bred in awful captivity (in SA, China and across Asia…) to serve the demand for Tiger Bone Wine and derivative products for Traditional Medicine….despite such activity being in breach of international conventions (CITES), most signatories have been complicit in turning a blind eye to these offences for over a decade.

  2. Pingback: Breeding and trading endangered wild animals is not conservation – it threatens their survival – International Wildlife Bond

Leave a Reply