By Kevin Heath
The British courts have again shown contempt for endangered species as a tiger parts trader – Catherine Emberton 29yrs, of Gleadless Road, Sheffield – was given a 120 hour community service order and forced to pay a £60 victim surcharge. Emberton had an international market via ebay in selling her jewellery that contained tiger claws and teeth. With just 3,000 tigers left in the wild her activities were in breach of international laws through the CITES treaty.
With British politicians, officals and even royals going around the world telling countries to tighten up on poaching and smuggling activities perhaps they should save the airfare and look closer to home and encourage the British courts to get serious about the impact of illegal wildlife trade on species.
Emberton’s lenient sentence comes despite His Honour Judge Moore at Sheffield Crown Court at an earlier hearing saying the she could face a custodial sentence. The maximum sentence for trading in tiger parts is 5 years in prison.
Emberton was caught after officers from the South Yorkshire Police and the National Wildlife Crime Unit investigated items being sold on Ebay. Emberton claimed that the jewellery she was shipping around the world was exempt from a permit requirement because her items used antique tiger parts.
The investigation though showed this to be false and the tiger parts she was using was covered by Appendix A of the CITES treaty. Many of the items of jewellery she was selling contained raw tiger bone set in metal.
On 9th June 2014 officers from NWCU and South Yorkshire Police executed a search warrant at Emberton’s home address. During the search officer found a silversmith’s work bench, jewellery making equipment, claws and teeth set in silver, 23 x raw claws and 10 x raw teeth.
Emberton was arrested and later charged with the prohibited sale, prohibited offering for sale and prohibited keeping for sale and Annex ‘A’ Species, namely tiger, contrary to the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997. The charges related to multiple sales (129) over an 18 months period and her possession of teeth and claws for sale on the day of the warrant.
Catherine Emberton was sentenced to 120hrs of unpaid work, a 12 month Community Service Order as well as being ordered to pay £60 victim surcharge and forfeiture of items seized.
Following the case investigating officer Andy McWilliam from the National Wildlife Crime Unit said, “Any person who chooses to trade in endangered species has a duty to know and comply with the law. The regulations are not an optional extra; they are there to protect species that are at risk. Some species, such as tiger are on the brink of extinction. People who offend run the risk of going to prison”.