• Authorities in Spain seized the 'largest find of nationally protected stuffed animals'
  • The Guardia Civil found 1,090 stuffed animals and almost 200 tusks
  • Authorities are now investigating the owner of the stuffed animals

Authorities in Spain have seized a large haul of taxidermied animals worth millions of dollars. Among the stuffed animals are those that are already endangered and protected.

Spain's Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) said Sunday it seized 1,090 taxidermied animals. They were part of a private collection in a Betera, according to AP News.

Among the animals discovered in the 50,000-square-meter warehouse, 405 are actually protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the international agreement between governments on wildlife protection, the Guardia Civil noted in a statement. The haul included a stuffed Bengal tiger and a scimitar-horned Oryx, which is considered to be extinct in the wild.

"In addition, among these specimens, different types of animals with different levels of protection were found, including the cheetah, leopard, lion, lynx, polar bear, snow panther and white rhinoceros. Also, among the pieces found, 198 were large ivory tusks of elephants," the Guardia Civil noted.

In the video shared by the Guardia Civil, one can see the officials scouring through the massive collection of various stuffed animals and large ivory tusks.

The Guardia Civil explained that the operations began in November 2021, when its agents learned about the possible private collection in Betera. It called the seizure the "largest find of nationally protected stuffed animals and one of the largest in Europe." In fact, it is estimated that the collection is worth more than 29 million euros or about $32 million.

Authorities are now investigating the owner for possible smuggling and other crimes related to the protection of flora and fauna in the municipality.

"In the next phase of the operation, the agents will proceed to the analysis of all the documentation provided by the author to justify the possession of the pieces reviewed," the Guardia Civil noted.

The international wildlife trade is worth billions of dollars annually and affects millions of plant and animal specimens, according to CITES. As the organization explained, exploitation, along with other harmful factors such as habitat loss, can actually deplete animals' and plants' populations and bring them close to extinction.

This is particularly daunting considering that the Earth is currently facing a "global extinction crisis," with experts predicting that over a million species may be on the way to extinction in the coming decades.

Stuffed Tiger/Taxidermy/Animal
Representative Image. Pixabay-Andrew Martin