Shop owner had collection of endangered species specimens

A shop owner who built up a collection of endangered species specimens, including a turtle shell, a crocodile head and part of a sawfish, has been fined £4,000.

Sasko Bezovski, aged 47, of Warwick Avenue, Westminster appeared at Hammersmith and Fulham Magistrates’ Court today (Wednesday, 19 April). He pleaded guilty to a charge of purchasing, offering to purchase, selling or keeping specimens of endangered species.

An officer from the Metropolitan Police’s Wildlife Crime Unit discovered the items after visiting the Kokon to Zai shop in Golborne Road, North Kensington on 15 July 2016.

A number of items – including a babirusa skull, the rostrum of a Knifetooth sawfish, a spur-thighed tortoise shell and the head of a crocodile known as a Sundra or False Gharial – were seized. The items were examined by a DEFRA appointed wildlife inspector and identified as protected under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna & Flora (CITES).

The seller of listed specimens must have documentary evidence to show the item was made prior to 3 March 1947. However Bezovski, the owner of the shop, was unable to provide the correct certification.

After being interviewed, Bezovski was charged on 17 March 2017 and convicted and fined as above. Bezovski must also pay £85 court costs and a £170 Government surcharge.

Detective Constable Christopher Jones, of the Met’s Wildlife Crime Unit, said: “The trade of endangered species is subject to strict regulations and it is the responsibility of the seller to make sure they are aware of this legislation and have the correct documentation.

“I am extremely grateful to our National Wildlife Crime colleagues who assisted with the investigation.”

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