News | Sunday, 20 September 2009

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Bengali tiger owner says cub was legally imported

The owner of the three-month-old Bengal tiger that was seized by the Malta Planning and Environment Authority is Christopher Borg, the owner of a waterproofing company.
Borg has refused to be interviewed, claiming the media has not been “prudent” with him and that reports on the seizure of his tiger, an endangered species, were “a pack of lies”.
The cub, a golden tabby, was discovered in an air-conditioned room on the roof of a warehouse in Mosta after a raid by members of the Animal Welfare Department, the police’s Administrative Law Enforcement and MEPA’s Environment Protection Department.
There are doubts over the certification of the cub’s importation into Malta. If the Bengal tiger was imported legally, MEPA, as the management authority both for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), should have all the documents at its fingertips.
It is understood that MEPA must issue a certificate of the location in which the animal is located, and only when it is satisfied that the intended accommodation is adequately equipped to conserve and care for it properly.
But Animal Welfare director Mario Spiteri said the veterinary services were not informed when the animal reached Malta, as required by law. The tiger’s owner however had all documentation on the animal’s lineage in captivity and the vaccines it had received.
“Stop writing about the tiger, please… leave me in peace, you are only doing harm. The tiger is mine and it arrived to Malta legally,” Christopher Borg told MaltaToday when asked for his version of events.
But Borg refused to say how the tiger had actually entered the island. “If the authorities are not answering to you, I will not reply to that.”
He insisted he had nothing to hide. “The authorities would have confiscated the tiger and would not have let me keep it if there was anything illegal.”
The tiger was imported from an EU member state, but MEPA is requesting further information from its counterparts in the originating country, to conclude its investigations.
The authority has however not confirmed whether any documents had been presented when the animal passed through customs.
According to the Nature Protection Unit’s former assistant director Alfred Baldacchino, a border inspection post for the veterinary service should have carried out inspections on imported live animals.
“The EU and Cites both have been notified of these specific posts. This means that the Bengal tiger had to enter Malta through one of these designated posts, accompanied not only by the Cites/EU documentation but also by a veterinary health certificate issued by the country of origin,” Baldacchino said.
The tiger was found in an air-conditioned room, and fed chickens but experts have commented that keeping a mature, two-year-old tiger in the warehouse would have been impossible. “A grown-up Bengal tiger can jump five metres in the air with its prey in its mouth.”
Grown-up tigers need to eat 30kg of meat a week and each tiger presides over a 20km radius.

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