News story

Border Force clamps down on illegal trade in endangered species

Border Force are clamping down on international crime groups that make millions of pounds every year smuggling endangered species into the UK

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Seized animals

Seized products include illegal ivory, birds of prey, trophy animals and Chinese medicines containing ingredients such as rhino horn.

There has also been an increase in the number of ‘body beautiful’ products, such as slimming supplements and face creams, containing caviar being smuggled across the UK border.

During 2012/13 there were 690 seizures resulting in a haul of 2.5 million illegal items. Last year there were 501 seizures and 248,770 illegal items.

Immigration Minister Mark Harper said:

Organised criminal gangs will smuggle anything if they think there is a profit to be made and animal products can be worth millions of pounds on the black market.

The fact that this trade is contributing to the threat of extinction faced by many endangered species is of no interest to these ruthless traffickers.

Border Force’s specialist officers are world renowned for their excellence in identifying and preventing the trade of illegal animal and plant material.

Officers are working tirelessly with partners in the National Crime Agency, the police and internationally to stamp out this illicit trade.

Successful Border Force seizures during 2012/13 include:

  • 3,890 kilos of medicinal products seized containing extracts from endangered species
  • 326 items of ivory – since April 2013 alone there’s been 21 seizures of ivory
  • 466 Hermann’s tortoises discovered at Heathrow Airport
  • 1.6 tonnes of tortoise jelly seized at Thames Port container in Kent
  • 750 kilos of endangered corals and 60 clams were discovered in boxes originating from Vietnam
  • 500 kg of face cream containing caviar extract sent from China discovered at Heathrow and Felixstowe
  • 2.3 tonnes of Sandalwood from India declared as handicrafts was found in UK bound for Hong Kong
  • 126,000 pots of ‘Detonate’ and 15,120 pots of ‘CRAZE’ - both nutritional supplements containing orchids were seized at Manchester Airport in a shipment from America
Published 15 November 2013