As part of a smuggling investigation, Spanish police have seized more than a thousand hunting trophies, hundreds of them belonging to protected species such as tigers, elephants, snow leopards, white rhinoceros, and polar bears. Agents found on 10th April 2022 a private collection of more than 1090 stuffed animals estimated at €29 million ($32 million) at a 50,000-square-meter industrial warehouse in Bétera, near Valencia, on the Mediterranean coast. Among the desecrated bodies there were the remains of 405 animals belonging to protected species, including the African scimitar oryx, which the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared extinct in the wild in 2000. A total of 198 elephant tusks were also seized.
The discovery was the culmination of an investigation by Valencia police’s Nature Protection Team, which began in November 2021. In a tweet, the Guardia Civil police said “we seized the largest collection of stuffed animals of protected species nationwide and one of the largest in Europe. A person has been investigated for the crimes of smuggling and another related to the protection of flora and fauna.”
Trophy hunting remains an international problem, but an increasing number of countries are slowly beginning to consider banning it. On 24th March 2022, the Belgium Parliament unanimously passed a resolution aimed to ban hunters from importing trophies of endangered and vulnerable species, as the Dutch government did in 2016. France and Australia have banned lion trophy imports in 2015, while the US (the number one country in both trophy hunters and a number of imports of hunting trophies) banned the import of trophies of polar bears and cheetahs in 2008. However, the UK government has been dragging its feet and is not following its electoral promise to ban the import of hunting trophies.