Raid on Istanbul's illicit wildlife museum reveals stuffed endangered animals worth $2.3m

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Editor : Selin Hayat Hacialioglu
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After extensive tracking, authorities discover Ustay's illicit collection of taxidermied endangered animals valued at $2.3 million in Istanbul

Raid on Istanbul's illicit wildlife museum reveals stuffed endangered animals worth $2.3m

Istanbul police have cracked down on an illegal wildlife museum, apprehending 85-year-old Ali Haydar Ustay, the mastermind behind a vast collection of taxidermied wild animals.

The raid was the final step in detailed physical and technical tracking and resulted in the seizure of over 400 specimens, including species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The haul features taxidermied polar bears, crocodiles, lions, cheetahs, bison, and a notable mammoth tusk. Authorities have valued the collection at a staggering $2.3 million.

Ustay, known for his extensive hunting expeditions, traveled to 30 countries on six continents to amass his collection. He illegally transported the animals into Türkiye via his private aircraft.

He went to extraordinary lengths to pursue his prey, including a two-week stint in a tree for a striped deer and a two-month stay in Canada for a polar bear.

The most egregious of his acts include the hunting and killing of the last known Anadolu tiger in Türkiye. "This is not just a crime against nature but a direct assault on our national heritage and biodiversity," said a General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks spokesperson.

The discovery of the tiger's skin in Ustay's collection has stirred a wave of outrage among wildlife activists and conservationists.

Authorities have commenced the process of handing over the seized items, including trophies, skins, and other artifacts, to the Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks. Ustay is currently undergoing interrogation for his alleged crimes.

Source: Newsroom

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