On a plain office table we perched a number of illegally seized wildlife specimens and starting take photos….
There’s something eerie about seeing tiger cubs, leopards, herons, rare tortoises and whale teeth confined in a bland urban office.
The Wildlife Crime Unit keeps hundreds of seized contraband specimens in a silent unmarked room in a non-descript building somewhere in London. I tried to capture these ex-creatures’ spectacular beauty – and horror – against the most meaningless background I could find.
No-one hears you scream when you’re standing on an Ikea table.
A stuffed leopard in unceremonious garb and elephant tusk –
Table full of seized ivory. Some elephant tusks are now removed from the animal with explosives
This is a hippo tooth. It is linked to photo 1
This is an African Black Rhino Horn. It was traced to a company based in London, who were intending to sell it into the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) market back in 1996.
Elephant tusk seized from man involved in the trade of ivory. He had elephant ivory and a large quantity of hippo ivory that was being carved into figurines. He was charged by police
Badger hair and ivory shaving brushes seized from Jermyn Street, London
These are thigh bones of the rare Asiatic Black Bear. They were being passed off as Tiger bone, as these are more valuable in the TCM market. They were being offered for sale by a TCM shop in Soho
This bird trap was seized from someone in South East London, who was taking part in wild finch trapping in 2012. The captured birds are often then put into the pet trade or sold to restaurants
These bird eggs were seized by an egg collector in London. He travelled to Scotland to collect many of the eggs. Police recovered some 700 bird eggs were recovered from his home address. He was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment
Rare tortoise shells
This mink was donated to the Wildlife Crime Unit so that it could provide an example of a non-native species and the consequences of such a species being introduced into the wild
This Hawksbill turtle was seized from a North London taxidermist. This species is unfortunately very commonly used in the illegal wildlife trade
The crocodile skin bag was handed into the police after the owner found out that it was actually made from real crocodile!
The Guillemot was seized from the same taxidermist in North London
This Tawny Owl was seized from an address in South East London
Gall bladders seized in Soho. They were sold as bear gall; they are infact pig gall bladders
Guillemot seized from a taxidermist in North London
These small bottles contain ground bear bile. This item was seized at London Heathrow Airport by the National CITES Enforcement Team at UK Border Force.
Cory’s Shearwater bird seized from taxidermist in North London
This is a Purple Heron, which is a rare visitor to the UK. It was seized in Brixton as the owner was unable to prove legal possession of the item. The owner had a very large collection of taxidermied birds in their collection
The badger was donated to the Wildlife Crime Unit as an educational aide, to highlight the issues of badger persecution.
The making of….
This tiger cub got to me most…
Me and my assistant, Jake, spent two hours trying different set ups before settling on the bland office table.
The gear we took – in the end we mostly used available light