By Harrison Arubu
A U.S. federal grand jury has charged a New York man, Christopher Casacci, with trafficking in African wild cats.
Assistant Attorney-General, Jeffrey Clark, and U.S. Attorney James Kennedy Jr of the Western District of New York, announced the indictment in a statement published on the website of the Department of justice.
Casacci, 38, is accused of violating the Lacey Act and the U.S. Animal Welfare Act by trafficking the animals in interstate commerce.
The suspect, said to be an animal dealer, allegedly imported and sold dozens of caracals and servals, both wild cat species, in interstate trade between February and June, 2018.
The two species are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), according to the attorneys
They said that their possession in commercial quantity and sale was restricted under New York state law.
“People and businesses dealing in animals are required to comply with humane care standards under the Animal Welfare Act.
“Casacci failed to do so, and failed to secure the necessary license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Casacci was charged with violating the Animal Welfare Act for selling animals without a license showing minimum compliance with humane treatment standards,’’ they said.
The suspect is also facing charges of concealing his business by falsely declaring the animals as domesticated breeds, such as savannah cats and bengal cats, on shipping records.
Also known as the “desert lynx’’, caracals are wild cats native to Africa, and grow to approximately 45 pounds, according to the statement.
Servals, on the other hand, also wild cats native to Africa, grow to approximately 40 pounds, they added. (NAN)