A TRIO of sick big game hunters has been caged for shooting a tiger in Spain.
Estate owner Manuel Dominguez along with wealthy hunters Davíd Jimenez and José de la Flor were jailed for killing the defenceless tiger that had been bought from a zoo.
The wife of Jimenez, Basilia Toledano, escaped jail. But two employees of the estate near Córdoba, were handed suspended sentences for the shocking case.
The group was caught red handed in December 2005 as they posed with the tiger they had riddled with bullets – a dozen at least – on the huge estate near the village of Monterrubio.
The court at Don Benito heard how they were about to shoot another tiger and a one-eyed lion, who had been brought from a nearby zoo.
The company, Sierra del Oro, had hundreds of clients, including Britons, who flew in to hunt a variety of animals.
At the estate there were photographs of up to 20 hunters posing next to wolves, a highly endangered species, they had killed.
Nearby in a shallow grave were the carcasses of three recently shot wolves.
The court heard how 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 arrested hunters.
The prosecution heard how between January and March 2005 at least 12 wolves – seven from Germany, and five from Holland – were also imported to be hunted.
Owner Dominguez not only claimed that he planned to start a zoo with the animals, but that hunting tigers was not illegal in Spain.
He argued that as tigers were not on the list of endangered species, the case should be absolved.
He was sentenced to two years in prison while the hunters each received 18 months.
They were also ordered to pay the cost of the case, which could amount to tens of thousands of euros.
“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.”
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.