Sick safari hunters named

LAST UPDATED: 3 Nov, 2010 @ 01:41
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A TRIO of sick big game hunters is to go on trial in December.

The group all from Madrid – David Jimenez, his wife Basilia Toledano and friend Tomas Jose de la Flor – travelled to Extremadura to shoot two tigers and a lion bought from zoos and circuses.

The three face up to 12 years in prison alongside hunt organiser Manuel Dominguez, and his two employees Juan Pedro Blazquez and Manuel Balsera.

The group were caught red handed in December 2005 as they posed with a tiger they had riddled with bullets on a huge estate at Monterrubio on the Cordoba border.

They were about to shoot another tiger and a one-eyed lion, which had been brought from a nearby zoo.

The company, Sierra del Oro, had dozens of clients, including Britons, who flew in to hunt a variety of illegal animals.

At the estate there were photographs of up to 20 hunters posing next to wolves, a highly endangered species, they had killed.

The prosecution alleges that five tigers and one lion, were imported by Dominguez from Zoo Safari Park in Hinojosa de San Vicente, near Toledo.

Brought in a rented van, it was exactly a week later on December 3, 2005, that the first of a series of hunts was organised for the three hunters arrested.

The prosecution alleges that between January and March 2005 at least 12 wolves – seven from Germany, and five from Holland – were also imported to be hunted.

Three carcasses of the wolves were discovered at the estate, according to police.

“It is one of the most barbaric examples of hunting abuses seen in Europe for decades,”
wildlife investigator Francisco Vazquez told the Olive Press. “These animals could hardly move having been cooped up in cages for days and would be easy to kill.

“Having been kept in captivity for most of their lives, they would have no idea what to do, less to hide, particularly in an area completely unknown to them.

“This was a cold, callous example of cruelty and I hope those responsible are heavily punished.”

Now, Sierra del Oro owner Manuel Dominguez, 42, is facing three years in prison at the trial which is due to begin at San Benito district court on December 14.

Despite an Olive Press investigation six months ago, the company still exists.

Its website www.sierra-del-oro.com opens with a bang and continues to offer the hunting of boar, mountain goat and ducks from 596 euros a day per person.

Describing itself as “a frontier company,” it is offering expeditions to Hungary and Yugoslavia and even – according to its website – to hunt the endangered species of puma and black antelope in Argentina for 1,400 US dollars per person.

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