The tigers stranded at the Belarus-Poland border have remained alive only thanks to Belarusian border guards. If they had let the trafficked animals into Belarus, the tigers would have reached their destination in Russia already dead, Jarosław Przybylski, a vet doctor at the Zoo in the Polish city of Poznan who has accepted and treated the predators, told Euroradio.
Those who were transporting the tigers from Italy were set "to disassemble them into parts" for further use in Chinese pseudo-medicine.
Belarusians have done something great but are not bragging
The story of ten tigers trafficked from Italy to Dagestan in Russia and detained at the Belarus-Poland border was reported around the world. First, Belarus border officials did not let in the accompanying persons who had no visas. Then, the veterinary control authorities found out that they had no documents for the tigers. One of the animals died right in a queue at the border post in Brest, having failed to survive the conditions of transportations. The remaining nine tigers were transferred to two Zoos in Poland, including the one in the city of Poznan.
The accompanying persons - a Russian and two Italy nationals - are facing up to three years in jail. It is also yet to be known if the Lublin prosecutor will charge the Polish veterinary officials who cleared the tigers for crossing the border into Belarus.
“We are surprised that Belarus has not taken use of this situation to boost its image. It is only thanks to the vigilance of Belarusian border guards that these tigers have survived, and the Belarusian side keeps mum! You have done something great but are not boasting!" Jarosław Przybylski told Euroradio.
Tiger's skin costs a lot even if a tiger is dead
As per Przybylski, whether the tigers would have arrived at their destination dead or alive apparently did not matter given the conditions they had been transported - without food or water.
“If Belarus had let them in, the tigers would have been dismantled, as we call it, into 'spare parts' and used in Chinese pseudo-medicine. It is a huge international market! The skin of even a dead tiger costs a lot. It doesn't matter if a tiger arrives alive or dead after 5000 km - the profit is always there.”
Jarosław Przybylski says that it was a Belarusian vet doctor serving at the border post who desperately started to look for potential hosts for the tigers having realized the condition of the animals.
“If the Belarusian border guards had let them in, they would have arrived their destination dead,” the Polish vet doctor stressed.