Two crocodiles were found in a Croydon flat and illegal monkey meat was sold in Hackney, according to a new study on wildlife crime.
‘The Victims of Wildlife Crime’ report, published yesterday by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), listed a wide series of crimes including a case where two West African dwarf crocodiles were found cramped in a makeshift tank in a Croydon flat in 2011.
Alyx Elliot, Campaigns Manager at WSPA UK, said: “The largest of the female reptiles, which measured more than 1m (4ft), was in such bad condition it died soon after being rescued.”
Elliot added: “It is believed the owner, who did not have a licence to keep the protected animals at his house in Croydon, bought them in Britain, but it is not known how they were smuggled into the country.”
Another crime listed in the report was the illegal sale of bushmeat – meat from wild animals hunted in Africa and Asia – in Dalston between 2001 and 2012. Species on sale included Pangolins and Tantalus monkeys. Reptile skins were also found to be on sale.
Elliot said: “Ridley Road market in Dalston has been identified at least twice as a hotspot for the sale of illegal bushmeat.”
He continued: “The trade in bushmeat is a persistent problem for UK authorities, with illegal meat products smuggled in by passengers in ferry terminals and airports.”
The sale of bushmeat could pose a serious risk to those who eat it, and to others from contamination, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
“We knew there was a lot of wildlife crime in London but the sheer diversity and breadth of it is striking,” said Elliot.
The Met’s Wildlife Crime Unit has seized over 30,000 endangered species since 1995.
Simon Pope, Director of Campaigns and Communications at WSPA UK said: “WSPA is launching this short report to help dispel the myth that wildlife crime is a victimless crime.
“Both animals and people are negatively impacted by wildlife crime in the capital, and we hope that by explaining what this means in reality, Londoners will do what they can to ensure wildlife crime is reported to the police, and London’s politicians will do what they can to support the enforcement agencies that work tirelessly to tackle it.”
He urged the public to report crime against animals to the Metropolitan Police Wildlife Crime Unit on 020 7230 8898 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The WSPA report has also inspired an exhibition now on display at City Hall, in Southwark, until January 14.