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Remains of illegally-traded endangered animals including monkey skulls and dolphin found in Cardiff house

An avid collector of animal skeletons was found with rooms full of the illegal remains of endangered species at his Cardiff home.

Michael Tang, 49, admitted to possessing 18 illegal specimens which he had purchased on eBay.

Cardiff Crown Court heard the offences took place over an 18-year period and came to light last year when Tang sold a monkey skull on eBay.

When police visited his home in Coronation Road, Heath, they found various taxidermy specimens on display which filled the hallway, dining room, main bedroom and shed.

Rhino

A total of 18 species were found which were categorised as endangered species.

The species included a Savanna baboon, Bornean orangutan, a gibbon, a chimpanzee and a La Plata river dolphin.

Tang also had a cabinet full of human skulls, as well as a Rhino head, but these had been legally obtained.

The court heard Tang had been purchasing and selling skeletons on eBay from 2000 to 2018, including a large mammoth fossil tooth and an armadillo shell.

The defendant was not in possession of an exemption certificate for the majority of the items, and when asked if he was aware of the legislation surrounding the trade of endangered species, Tang said he was.

Monkey skulls

He also failed to possess the permits he needed to import or export endangered animals.

Prosecutor James Wilson said: “He accepts he was an enthusiastic and avid collector and was more concerned in collecting such items and was more concerned with that hobby than the legislation.”

Tang later pleaded guilty to 24 offences related to the illegal trade of endangered species.

Defence barrister Derrick Gooden said his client had been a collector of such items for a significant period of time and accepted having a disregard to the requirements of needing a permit.

Armadillo shell

He argued that his client, an animator who had worked on several BAFTA award winning animations, was not running a commercial enterprise but was purely buying and selling to feed his own collection.

Sentencing, the Recorder of Cardiff Judge Eleri Rees said: “You were an avid and some would say obsessive collector of this material.

“What is remarkable is that this was not done in ignorance of the obligations and the legal framework. For a man of your education and intelligence you showed an arrogance to flout the regulations designed to protect these endangered species.

“Whatever your motives, it’s the actions that adds to the real risk to these species.”

Tang was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months and was ordered to carry out 120 hours unpaid work and to pay £1,200 court costs.

Speaking after the hearing, Stephen Head of the CPS said: “Not content with filling his home with ageing animal skulls and skeletons, Tang profited from the illegal sale of these rare items.

“The controls in place for trading endangered animal specimens are vital to safeguard animals that are increasingly at risk of being wiped out completely.”

The illegally obtained specimens will be confiscated and donated to the National History Museum of Scotland.

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