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By Matthew Larotonda
LONDON (Reuters)

The amount of medicinal products containing illegal wildlife tissue seized by EU authorities has risen sharply in the last six years, according to monitoring group TRAFFIC and includes items from a range of animals including tigers, bears and snakes

EU authorities made 952 seizures of illegal wildlife medicines in 2016, up from 174 in 2011, an analysis by Reuters of reports by the group showed.

 

Crocodile taxidermy seized by UK Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport
Crocodile taxidermy seized by UK Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport sit on display at Custom House near Heathrow in London, Britain November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

 

A range of seized medicinal items found at a lock-up near Britain’s Heathrow airport contained ingredients including Asiatic bears’ stomach bile and tiger bone and a threatened species of South African cactus.

 

Goods which have been seized by UK Border Force officers
Goods which have been seized by UK Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport including taxidermy of endangered species, ivory carvings and herbal medicines sit on display at Custom House near Heathrow in London, Britain November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

 

The medicines, such as Red Ant, a popular remedy from China that contains seahorse as a key ingredient, purport to treat everything from erectile dysfunction to cancer.

Many of the medicines originate in Africa, and a significant portion are destined for markets in Asia.

 

A border force officer moves a Taxidermy brown bear seized by UK Border Force
A border force officer moves a Taxidermy brown bear seized by UK Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport as they sit on display at Custom House near Heathrow in London, Britain November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

 

In the evidence lock-up near Britain’s Heathrow Airport, home to a menagerie of confiscated wildlife contraband, UK Border Force investigator Jan Sowa picks up a tonic bottle from Asia, containing an entire snake.

 

 

“Most frequently we see these as tourist souvenirs, rather than serious medicinal aids,” Sowa says of the snake bottle, noting its English labelling.

The United Nations estimates the global market for illegal wildlife medicines is valued at $3.4 billion (£2.5 billion).

 

(Writing by Matthew Larotonda in London; Editing by William Maclean)

 

An officer shows a jar of dried seahorse, seized by the UK Border Force
An officer shows a jar of dried seahorse, seized by the UK Border Force at Heathrow Airport at Custom House near Heathrow in London, Britain November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

 

Taxidermy endangered species seized by UK Border Force
Taxidermy endangered species seized by UK Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport sit on display at Custom House near Heathrow in London, Britain November 22, 2017.REUTERS/Simon Dawson

 

An officer holds a package containing bear bile seized by UK Border Force
An officer holds a package containing bear bile seized by UK Border Force at Heathrow Airport near Custom House near Heathrow in London, Britain November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

 

An officer holds a bottle of cobra tonic seized by the UK Border Force
An officer holds a bottle of cobra tonic seized by the UK Border Force at Heathrow Airport at Custom House near Heathrow in London, Britain November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

 

An officer shows off Pangolin scales seized by the UK Border Force
An officer shows off Pangolin scales seized by the UK Border Force at Heathrow Airport at Custom House near Heathrow in London, Britain November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

 

An officer shows off a jar of Hoodia, used as a appetite suppressant, seized by the UK Border Force at Heathrow Airport at Custom House near Heathrow in London, Britain November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

 

Keep reading (more images ahead)  …

 

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