Prague, July 16 (CTK) – The Czech police and customs officers raided sites in Prague, central and north Bohemia on Monday on suspicion of unlawful treatment of protected wildlife, which, server Lidovky.cz said, was the killing of tigers in a zoo and the procession of tiger products by the Vietnamese community.
“We can announce that steps based on a criminal file are being taken…on suspicion of an unlawful treatment of protected wild animal and plant species, which means a violation of the CITES international convention,” Hana Prudicova, spokeswoman of the Customs General Directorate, told CTK.
Apart from customs officers and the police, the raids have been joined by the Czech Environment Inspection (CIZP) officers. “We cannot provide more information for now, since the investigation is underway,” Prudicova said.
According to Lidovky.cz, the raided sites include the private zoopark in Bast near Prague, and also Sapa, the Vietnamese market place on the southern outskirts of Prague.
The police suspect members of the Vietnamese community of having assisted in unlawful selling of special meals made of tiger bones, Lidovky.cz wrote.
Pavla Rihova, head of the CIZP department for CITES and biodiversity protection, confirmed that a site in central Bohemia is being raided, without specifying the location.
She said the CIZP hopes that the affair will have serious consequences. A press conference on it will take place later this week, but the CIZP would not inform about the affair by then, Rihova said.
Later on Monday, Bast Mayor Iva Cucova confirmed that the police were raiding a site in the village.
She said the Bast zoopark, run by Ludvik Berousek, has neither posed any problems nor met with local people’s complaints so far.
In north Bohemia, the police, in cooperation with the customs authority, are intervening in the Ceska Lipa area with the aim to document suspected cases of violation of the environment protection law, local police spokeswoman Ivana Balakova said.
A branch of Berousek’s Bast zoopark is located in Doksy, near Ceska Lipa, where white lions and tigers as well as black panthers are kept.
Balakova did not confirm whether it is Dosky were the police are intervening.
Hana Holeckova, former director of the Dvur Kralove zoo, east Bohemia, told CTK that the breeding of exotic animals needs a licence from the veterinary authority. If a breeder wants to open the premises to the public for more than a week in a year, he needs a zoo licence as granted by the Environment Ministry.
Holeckova said she doubts that tigers have been bred in Czechia as illegal source of money to be used in Asian medicine or gastronomy.
Any trading in tiger derivates is unlawful without the permit of CITES, Holeckova said.