It has also been suggested that one reason non-native big cats may indeed be in the UK is that illegal trafficking of non-native big cats in the UK has led to escapes or releases of such animals. That theory is only possible if indeed illegal importing of non-native big cats is actually happening; it is but only in very small numbers!!
Evidence in the public domain from the UK:NWCU (UK: National Wildlife Crime Unit and TRAFFIC) the wildlife trade monitoring network show a small number of instances where there has been an illegal import or export on non-native big cats too or from the UK. Details (not including the names of the individuals as I am not here to judge) of these cases can be found below.
TRAFFIC is an international network, consisting of TRAFFIC International, based in Cambridge, UK with offices on five continents....TRAFFIC actively monitors and investigates wildlife trade.
TRAFFIC's goal is to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature & to help study monitor and influence action to curb illegal wildlife trade.
Having made contact with TRAFFIC they clearly have evidence of an illegal non-native big cat trade in the UK and the details of this can be found on their website in their PDF document:
The UK: National Wildlife Crime Unit (UK:NWCU) function is to assist individual police forces investigations into illegal big cat imports or exports in the UK. Individual police forces ask for their assistance and resources when they feel they need help.
I recently made a FOI (Freedom of Information Request) to the UK: National Wildlife Crime Unit about illegal big cat trafficking and that email with the units response follows:
My Freedom of Information Request:
1. 06/06/2012 - 0608 - Freedom of Information Request received from Darrell Cook regarding:
I would like to make the following FOI request?
Could you provide the number of occasions, the dates, the police forces involved & the basic details of the case where you have been involved in successfully investigating and prosecuting individuals or organizations with regard to the illegal import or export of non-native big cats into the UK ? Could you please provide the information from 1990 to date?
Thank you very much for your time.
Dear Mr Cook,
Thank you for your email which has been dealt with under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. We are unable to search back to 1990 as our database was only set up and populated from 2007;although some pre 2007 historical data is saved on the system. A result of search for any convictions or prosecutions in relation to the illegal import or export of live big cats, that the NWCU have assisted on, has proved NEGATIVE. This search was conducted over the whole system and all dates were included.
I was unable to conduct any specific searches due to the lack of data regarding specific searches. If any details are available regarding specific cases or enquiries then further searches can be conducted.
If you have any questions about the above or I can help in any other way, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me again. However, under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, you have the right to appeal if you are dissatisfied with the way in which we have dealt with your enquiry. This should be done within 40 working days of receiving this email. If you wish to appeal please contact Rachel Watson, Head of Force Information Unit, Lothian and Borders Police, Police Headquarters, Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh, EH4 1RB. Please note that subsequent to this internal review there is a right of appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner, Kinburn Castle, Doubledykes Road, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9DS.
I trust you will find this information useful.
Kenny Smith| Force Information Unit | Lothian and Borders Police | Force Headquarters | Fettes Avenue | Edinburgh | EH4 1RB | 0131 311 3901