A man has been given a 14 month prison sentence for selling illegal wildlife trade animal parts on Instagram for a total of £2 million.
Abbas Allawi, 52, was found to have various endangered animal parts stashed in his home in Watford, UK, which included rhino horns, elephant tusks and hippo teeth. Allawi was arrested after the illegal items were found by dogs that are part of the Metropolitan police’s wildlife crime unit and are specially trained to identify the scent of rhino horn.
The total items seized were three rhino horns, two elephant tusks and four hippo teeth which were found by the dogs in the man’s attic. Allawi was reportedly attempting to sell the items on Instagram, advertising them for “cash only” at a prices of £60,000 per kilo, meaning that he would have made a total of £2 million.
Following a court case, he has now been jailed for 14 months with six wildlife offences including purchasing endangered animal parts illegally, keeping the items and attempting to sell them. DC Christopher Jones said, “Some rhinoceros populations are critically endangered. A world without iconic species such as rhinos and elephants would be a sad place. Police are the last line of defence for some of these beautiful creatures. We will seek to prosecute anyone found to be trading illegally.”
This highlights that despite the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997 making it illegal to sell endangered species and their parts in the UK, which includes unworked rhino horns and elephant ivory, it is still a huge problem.
Peter Nugent, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said, “Allawi stood to make significant sums trading in ivory and tusks, despite knowing it was illegal. He tried to claim ignorance of the law, but the prosecution case was able to show through his messages to potential buyers that he knew full well he was trading in what he described as ‘banned things’.”
Despite the conviction, this highlights the huge issue of the illegal wildlife trade operating in the UK, with the help of social media. We need to raise awareness to show how stricter regulation and higher prison sentences are needed to be a deterrent, together with highlighting the rapidly declining populations of endangered species due to this unjustified trade in animal parts.
Image Credit: Metropolitan police/PA
I am Jess Murray, wildlife conservationist, photographer and writer. Follow my Facebook page and Instagram account to be part of the journey. I like to document the natural world and create awareness through my writing so that your future can be sustainable and positive.