OPINION ARTICLE BASED ON NEWS STORY: I am stressing that this is an opinion article because I have strong opinions about this sort of person. He is clearly an objectionable person who has no concern about animal welfare and who has joined in the exploitation of wild animals. He is a taxidermist from Burnley in Lancashire, UK. He has traded elephant tusks and tigers’ heads and was jailed in 2015 for illegal taxidermy.
Pictures came to the notice of law enforcement of him roaring next to the head of a tiger (see below). He was also seen riding a stuffed giraffe and wearing a leopardskin coat. He was cautioned in 2011 for selling stuffed endangered birds.
He deliberately flouted the law under the Control of Trade in Endangered Species Regulations which implements the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
His latest criminal episode, in which she knowingly and flagrantly broke the law, concerned selling rhino horn to the Chinese Mafia in France. In an example of the way he thinks, he bought black rhino heads at an auction legitimately. Rather surprisingly, to me, these stuffed rhino heads still retained their horns and we know how much I rhino horn is worth in China don’t we? The Chinese think that rhino horn, which is made of keratin (the same stuff that our nails are made up) is an aphrodisiac and are prepared to pay up to US$60,000 per kilogram on the black market. It is far more expensive than gold or cocaine. Mr Halstead, 29, recognises this so when he bought the rhino heads legitimately he had in his mind to sell them on the black market in France to Chinese traders.
Between September 2017 and January 2018 he discussed the sales with buyers over Instagram and WhatsApp. He had bought three rhino heads and removed the horns. He agreed a price, in November 2017 of €70,000 plus travel expenses to take four rhino horns to France. He claimed that he had never been stopped to reassure the buyers.
He made two trips and met the purchasers in a hotel where the items were exchanged for cash payments. He admitted in the text message that he was dealing with the Chinese Mafia.
He also offered to sell tigers’ heads and a black rhino skull and other items including three elephant tusks. At his trial he admitted nine breaches of the Control of Trade in Endangered Species Regulations.
Further Comment: the man is a criminal, yes, but this sort of underhand trade is driven by the bizarre belief that rhino horn is an aphrodisiac when it is not. It is mumbo-jumbo and superstition. It is time that the people who want to purchase these items were educated. It would do an enormous amount of good in terms of wildlife conservation if they were. They should be forceably retrained. Sadly President Xi of China believes in Chinese traditional medicine and if a doctor in China denigrates it in China they are arrested and jailed.