Detector dog discovers smuggled tiger penis

13 May 2010

A Cambodian woman arriving at Auckland Airport from Singapore on Saturday 8 May was found smuggling what is suspected to be a tiger pizzle (penis) and a tiger gallbladder.

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) detector dog Kelso signalled to the left hip of the woman, prompting his handler Courtney Moore to undertake a full search that revealed a stocking tied around her waist and a plastic bag around her leg.

Further questioning revealed that the woman had hidden the pizzle on her hip, under her pants – right where Kelso had signalled.

MAFBNZ Detector Dog Programme Manager, Craig Hughes says "this find highlights the important role the detector dog teams play at the border and sends a strong signal to those thinking about smuggling illegal goods into New Zealand".

"The Detector Dog Programme is an important part of MAFBNZ operations. Our dogs consistently find items that would otherwise prove difficult for our inspectors to locate" says Craig.

In the 2008-09 year, MAFBNZ seized 126,500 biosecurity risk goods. The detector dog teams accounted for 9% (11,385) of those items.

Tiger is an endangered species and is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). While some cultures value tiger parts for supposed medicinal benefit, the risk to the species is extreme. Worldwide tiger populations are rapidly declining and all tiger species are endangered. Genuine tiger penises are rare and can be sold at inflated prices for use in adornment, rituals and medicines.

The woman, who was travelling with her daughter and husband, could be liable under the Biosecurity Act for a fine of up to $100,000 and/or five years imprisonment. Pending confirmation that the pizzle and gallbladder are from a tiger, the case will be considered for prosecution under the Trade in Endangered Species Act which also carries a fine of up to $100,000 and/or five years imprisonment.

Photos available on request.

For further information, please contact:
Kathy Dyer, Communications Adviser, 04 894 0335



Last Updated: 22 September 2010

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33