Caracals, servals… Why does the trend of wild animals affect the North?

Caracals are very popular right now. Therefore, they are the main victims of wildlife trafficking. (©Refuge de l’Arche)

Panther, caracal, serval, python… The wild animalsknown as non-household, there is a heart Ten events in the North. Ownership of these animals found in private homes or on a public highway is still presumed highly regulated France.

A very “easy” purchase

Despite these rules, it is very easy to buy homeless animals in France. We were able to experience it. By typing “buy caracal” on the Internet, we were able to find many ads promising to buy it in minutes.

On the Btanimals website, you can find an ad for an offer of a baby caracal delivered to us for 2500 euros. The seller had a phone number. We contacted him and tried to buy a caracal. As soon as we introduced ourselves, the salesman asked our preferences. Male or female? Personal use or cultivation? These are the only questions he asks about the animal.

Right at home

After a few messages, the seller is already talking about the delivery of the animal, which is possible
at the airport or directly at home. He also asks about payment. When asked if we would be risking anything due to the law in France, he assures us that the “kitten” will have all the necessary legal documents. However, to own a caracal in France, you only need to have a certificate of ability issued by the prefecture after inspections.

The seller agrees to talk on the phone to reassure us. On the first call, the area code indicates that it is in the UK. Then during the second telephone exchange, the code this time shows that the seller is in Spain. One thing is certain: it comes from abroad. During this call, the seller refuses to answer our questions about how to get the animal to France.

We won’t go as far as getting the animal to us, but the process seems pretty simple even to the less skilled. Below you will find screenshots of our conversation with the caracal seller.

Screenshots of our conversation with a caracal seller living abroad.
Screenshots of our conversation with a caracal seller living abroad.
Here is the continuation of our exchange with the caracal seller.
Here is the continuation of our exchange with the caracal seller.

Videos: currently on Actu

A well-oiled technique

According to Tonga’s Terre d’Accueil association, which welcomes wild animals confiscated from individuals, traffickers used false documents to smuggle the animals across borders. Caracals and servals are presented as catfish on ID cards. The technique is well oiled because baby caracals and baby servals are very similar to them. Overwhelmed by the number of applications, customs officials do not have time to thoroughly inspect each animal.

Numerous cases of non-domestic animals in the North

It seems we’re not the only ones who want to deliver a homeless animal. Since 2019, many people have been able to get them if we believe a few different facts about wild animals in the region.

In 2019, the Armentières panther case hit the headlines. The resident saw the cat in his window. Experts in many videos of the animal
to recognize the panther. After a short hunt, they find the animal sleeping on a public road. It was then handed over to the League for the Protection of Animals (LPA) and later to a zoo in Belgium.

In 2021, a “beast” was seen by hunters in Auxi-le-Château, south of Pas-de-Calais. That would be a cougar. A few months later, passers-by saw him again a few miles out of town.

Last year, in 2022, several servals and caracals were found in private houses. These operations took place mainly near Tourcoing and Roubaix, where there is a significant traffic in these animals. The voice of the north in December.

Easier to enter the illegal market

One of the reasons there are so many homeless animals in the North and elsewhere is that they are easily available on the illegal market. This is also confirmed by the Tonga Terre d’Accueil association: “It is very easy to buy wild animals such as servals or caracals. We even find them on the first page of Google. »

By contrast, taking the legal route seems more restrictive. This is possible
take a legal route for people who want to have a non-pet at home. It is enough to apply to the prefecture, which will check whether the conditions for accepting the animal meet its needs.

According to the prefecture, 400 applications for the declaration of non-domestic animals are made in the Nord department every year. They are managed by the Department of Population Conservation and mainly concern turtles and parrots.

The only problem is that these permits are very difficult to obtain, as the Tonga Terre d’Accueil association explains: “The prefecture does not issue these certificates easily. It takes a lot of opportunities to get them. Even for breeders, it is very difficult to achieve this for such an individual…”

A fashion

In addition to the ease of obtaining these homeless animals, another element drives traffic: social networks. Indeed, many foreign influencers share their daily lives with their servals or caracals on social media.

This fashion effect is noted and condemned by the Tonga Terre d’Accueil association: “Without
influencers, people would be less attractive. There was a vogue for primates, baby tigers, and now it’s the turn of caracals and servals. »

The association notes that the situation has worsened in the last year, but cannot give an exact figure. For their part, the prefecture and the fire department did not want to give us details about the increase in wildlife trafficking in the North.

Disastrous results

Individuals who use internet sellers to acquire non-pets are often unaware of their responsibilities. Often, animals are housed in spaces that are too cramped for them and their nutritional needs are not taken into account.

When the Tonga Terre d’Accueil association collects animals, they sometimes have big problems. “Some of them have consequences, Alexander Blanchon, a member of the association, is angry. Many homeowners are beyond the dining table. One day they brought us a serval that only eats avocados, it’s a carnivore! »

Penalties severe enough?

The state imposed sanctions to prevent transportation. A person who illegally keeps a pet faces a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine of 150,000 euros.

But this maximum sentence is rarely applied, as Tonga’s Terre d’Accueil association laments: “We never reach the most severe sentence. Punishments should be exemplary, justice should prevail. It is felt that the traffickers do not have enough punishments and have too much profit to sell. »

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