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Cablegate: Taiwan Seized Large Amount of Endangered Tiger

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS TAIPEI 003372

SIPDIS

DEPT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON

DEPT FOR EAP/PD AND EAP/TC

FROM AIT KAOHSIUNG BRANCH OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR TW KS ETRD SENV ESTH
SUBJECT: Taiwan Seized large amount of Endangered Tiger
Bones


1. Summary. On July 1, 2005 at the Port of Kaohsiung,
Kaohsiung Customs seized a large amount of tiger bones that
were smuggled into Taiwan from Jakarta. Local law
enforcement agents are questioning the importer, the owner
of local Chew Long Trading Co., who may be charged for both
conducting smuggling operations and violating Taiwan's
wildlife conservation law. End Summary.

2. While conducting routine inspections on inbound cargo,
Kaohsiung Customs officials discovered about 140 kg of tiger
bones hidden among deer antlers in a container on a
container vessel, which arrived from Jakarta to Kaohsiung
Port on July 1. Along with the bones, the inspectors also
found 400 kg of pangolin scales and five pieces of carved
ivory. According to the inspectors, the contraband was
packed in plastics bags, put into paper cartons and hidden
among hundreds of pieces of deer antlers. The importer was
Chew Long Trading Co., located in Kaohsiung City.

3. Customs had forwarded the confiscated bones to National
Pingtung University of Science and Technology for
verification. It was determined that the bones were taken
from Panthera Tigris, an endangered tiger species that
mostly inhabits jungles and canebrakes of Asia. The
Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau (MJIB) maritime
field office in Kaohsiung is investigating the case.
According to Customs officials, tiger bones and pangolin
scales are on the wildlife conservation list, which are
banned for trade. Trading of ivory products requires
official approval from authorities of both the importer and
exporter. MJIB officials noted that the owner of the
trading company had failed to submit the required
certificate of approval needed to import ivory products and
had also conducted illegal transportation of wildlife
pieces. The owner may be charged for violation of Taiwan's
wildlife conservation law.

4. According to Customs officials, the tiger bones and
pangolin scales were smuggled into Taiwan in order to be
used as traditional medicines. Tiger bones are usually
ground into powder or they are sometimes cut into segments
and soaked in wine. Uneducated local people believe that
tiger bones can be used to cure a variety of health
problems, including fevers and rheumatism, and people also
believe that pangolin scales can be used as a medicine for
breast augmentation. Customs officials estimated that the
seized items may have a market value of USD 170,000.

Thiele

Paal

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