Sumatran tiger cub in Le Havre, Normandy illustrates illegal trade in tigers

Another bizarre tiger story. A French couple living in France wanted to purchase a high filial Savannah cat which you might know is a serval-domestic cat hybrid. They bought the cat online but were delivered a Sumatran tiger cub instead. Extraordinarily, they did not know that they had taken possession of a tiger until a few days later when they contacted the police. They purchased the animal for €6000. Savanah cats and tiger cubs have a completely different appearance by the way.

Tiger cub. Stock image from EPA.

The Sumatran tiger is highly endangered. The trade in wild kittens of any species is arguably out of control. There are international treaties (CITES) in place to protect wildlife from this kind of trade but they are unenforced or the enforcement lacks teeth. If it isn't tiger cubs it'll be tiger body parts which are traded to feed the traditional Chinese medicine market in China. Lion bones are also popular which causes no end of lion abuse in Africa.

This rather odd story is an example of how a tiger cub from Sumatra can find itself in Le Havre, Normandy, France through what must have been a huge network of individuals all acting illegally to make their profit out of exploiting a young endangered animal. I suspect that the cub was taken from his or her mother by a poacher or it may be a captive animal and then sold to an intermediary and so on until the animal ended up in France.

The story is also a lesson about not buying cats online. It is unethical and frankly stupid to buy an exotic cat or need any cat online, sight unseen. You don't know what you're buying and there are lots of scammers out there on the internet trying to take your money. You simply have to visit the cattery and the breeder. You've got to meet the cats and the person selling them if you really are fixated on buying one. 

That is the only way you can tell whether things are bona fide and whether the cat that you are buying is healthy and well socialised and will therefore make a good pet. Personally, I would ban all purchases of cats of any kind online. That's if I was in charge which is a fantasy, of course. There's just too much abuse going on to allow this sort of trade to carry on.

The best way to adopt a cat is to go into a local rescue centre, meet the cat and find the one who comes up to you. And if you're particularly enlightened and a truly great person, you will go up to the least desirable cat in the block and adopt that one and give her a beautiful life, a life that she deserves but probably never had until you turned up.


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