Millions of pounds are made each year by traffickers who sell trophy animals on the black market. Big cats, hippos teeth and tortoises are among record numbers confiscated by Border Agency officials at Heathrow over the past year.
London Zoo has now been called upon to give some of them a new home and a second chance.
David Wood reports:
The Border Force is seizing record numbers of endangered species at Heathrow Airport.The capital is seen as a hub for the trade due to its international transport links. London Zoo is part of a project to re-home illegally imported creatures.
Staff there say their role is crucial to the survival of species targeted by poachers, as David Wood reports:
Grant Miller, senior officer on the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITIES) Border Force team at Heathrow has said the market in endangered animal items being trafficked into the country is evolving.
He said there is a significant increase in items in such as ivory from west and central Africa being trafficked through London's "logistic hub".
"We pick up between 5-15 kilo of ivory at time. The heartbreaking thing is it quite clearly new ivory from recently slaughted elephants."