Man arrested after trying to sell leopard and bear parts online

editorial image

A man has been arrested after police discovered body parts from animals including a leopard and a bear at a house in Fife.

The 49-year-old is accused of trying to sell parts of the exotic creatures on the internet.

Items were recovered from the property in Cowdenbeath during a police raid and were identified after being taken away for expert analysis.

PC Lindsay Kerr, wildlife and environmental crime officer at Police Scotland’s Fife Division, said it was an unusual case.

He said: “It is really quite rare, particularly in this part of the world, for someone to be involved in this kind of illegal and very damaging trade.

“However, acting on intelligence, Police Scotland and the National Wildlife Crime Unit carried out a thorough investigation and have arrested a 49-year-old man who is due to appear in court at a later date.

“My advice to anyone who is involved in the illegal sale of protected species is not to take the risk.

“It is a criminal offence and we investigate all reports of wildlife crime with the aim of ensuring that those involved in any black market activities are arrested.

“Anyone who wants to contact Police Scotland regarding wildlife crime should telephone the non-emergency number 101, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Officers discovered the animal parts on July 29.

The man has been charged under Section 8 (1) of the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997, and a report will be sent to the procurator fiscal.

Conservation organisation World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said although the UK was not a major international hub for illegal wildlife trade, wildlife crime was still a problem here.

WWF said: “The illegal wildlife trade is one of the biggest threats to the survival of some of the world’s most threatened species.

“In fact it’s second only to habitat destruction as a cause of loss for many species.”

The leopard’s conservation status is described as “near threatened”, meaning it could face extinction soon.

Found across sub-Saharan Africa to southeast Asia, the big cat is vulnerable to being poached for its skin and other body parts.