DAY 315: HOW I ACCIDENTALLY GAVE MONEY TO A CRIMINAL TAXIDERMIST
This is a ten-day old tiger cub that was illegally imported into the UK in 2006 to be sold on the black market for £20,000.
It stares out from it’s plinth as if posing as a vast animal overseeing it’s jungle. But it is pathetically small. It’s stance serves only as a depressing reminder of man’s awful power over nature.
This is the most poignant of all the seized illegal wildlife contraband I saw at the Wildlife Crime Unit last week. As soon as I get clearance I will publish the rest of the photos here – apologies for delay on this. THe images are powerful and I hope I might get them into a magazine along with an article to bring awareness to the issues of wildlife crime – and how it is relevant to all of us.
This cub was one of two seized by police from dealer Robert Sclare who runs a taxidermy shop in Islington, London, called Get Stuffed. Sclare was jailed for six months but he is currently back at his trade.
A quick google search on his name reveals a Telegraph article from 2004 that identifies him as also one of a handful of people that has, in the past, been selling human foetuses, (apparently this was legal back then, if no less vile becasue of it):
” Mr Sclare, who was sentenced to six months in prison in 2000 for forging licences to allow him to import rare animals for stuffing, showed an undercover reporter a 14-week foetus he keeps in a jar, but declined to sell it.
When asked about human specimens, he revealed a human head and amputated hand he keeps in plastic bags out of sight of customers.
He said the advent of the internet, which has made it easier for prospective purchasers to submit bids, had sent prices soaring.
We have human bits and pieces – we all do, and we like to keep them to ourselves, and things that are sold are astronomically expensive. I have been offered £25,000 for the mummified head. There have been a couple of deals done with Japanese and they paid monstrous money, and consequently shockwaves went round those that have got items. Suddenly, the anatomical specimens are fetching thousands.”
(telegraph 1st Aug, 2004)
The curious thing is that I have met Mr Sclare before and it struck me then, in my tiny, prejudiced mind that he was a nasty piece of work.
East London Foxes
When I started off as a photographer I wanted to do a project on the beautiful but mischievous foxes that live in East London.
After realising I had no chance of capturing the real things, I went to ‘Get Stuffed’ to hire a taxidermied fox . It took me a number of calls and emails to get an appointment (now I know why he was so cautious) and when I finally met him I felt as if I’d been punched in the face. I’ve met some moody shop sellers in my time but this guy did his best to sneer at me, telling me not to touch anything, making me feel foolish. In the end he reluctantly rented the fox to me for £400 – ‘more than a ferrari’ he said proudly – I suppose it was my mistake for paying, and then said if there was a single scratch on it he’d make me pay £1000’s to replace it.
I got some unusual shots but it’s fairly horrible to think the money went into his filthy little pockets. ‘Get stuffed’ – my sentiments exactly.
I don’t know why a character assessment is relevant – other than to say the people working in the illegal trade are a fairly hardened, miserable lot.