THE World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that Spain is a ‘high risk’ country for tiger trafficking due to the lack of ‘stricter’ regulations and controls.

Weak legislation and limited checks on private captive tiger facilities across Spain provide significant opportunity for tiger parts, such as skins and bones, to enter illegal trade, according to a report from WWF.

In 14 countries across the EU, private individuals and/or circuses can still keep tigers. Both scenarios are permitted in Spain.

According to the report, Spain has weak regulations and compliance checks in place to register, breed and then dispose of parts and products when the tigers die.

Additionally, Spain is a relevant entry point to Europe as well as a country of origin and transit of wildlife crime.

Recent police operations point to the existence of criminal groups with organised crime infrastructures, and the internet increasingly used for selling rare species outside the legal market.

The price of a tiger on the black market can be as high as €22,000 or even more.

Despite weak regulations, the Spanish Environmental Police, (SEPRONA), is one of the few specialised forces in Europe fighting environmental crime.

For the head of WWF Spain’s species programme, Gemma Rodriguez, the main challenges in Spain are to ‘improve legislation’ and carry out ‘regular monitoring and inspections of facilities’.

WWF has proposed to the European Commission, the Member States and the United Kingdom to ban the trade of tigers in captivity; and to consider banning the keeping of tigers in circuses and private facilities, unless controls are sufficient to guarantee their legality.

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