|Photo copyright Helmi Flick.|
It is useful to remind ourselves that some generations of Bengal cats are CITES regulated. This reminds us that the Bengal cat is a wildcat hybrid. It is easy to forget as the Bengal cats we see and those at cat shows are so domesticated. You have to be a pretty fantastic cat with regard to behavior never mind appearance to compete at the cat shows as the cats are handled a lot by strangers. CITES stands for Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. CITES is an agreement between governments who are signed up to the convention. The agreement is designed to protect wildlife by regulating trade in wildlife between these countries. The ideas for the convention were put forward in the 1960s. The agreement was drafted in 1973 and came into effect in 1975. There are 172 parties to the agreement currently. There are about 189 countries in the world (I say about because "countries" such as the Vatican are an anomaly). When a country (State) becomes a party it has to enact laws in the country that give effect to the convention. This works in the same way as the European Union. I would have thought that it could be difficult to enforce the agreement and ensure agreeing countries enact the requisite laws and then enforce them. As Bengal cats come from a true wild cat, the Asian Leopard cat, Bengal cats are CITES regulated. In what way are they regulated? In respect of the UK and EEC countries (as far as I am aware) this is the position: Fifth (5th) generation Bengal cats (F5) are not regulated by CITES and can enter the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme (see link below). The rules of the scheme must be complied with and the cat should have a proper pedigree certificate from TICA. Fourth generation (F4) and upwards (F3, F2 and F1) Bengal cats are CITES regulated. This is because CITES regulates hybrid animals whose recent lineage includes certain wild animals as listed in Appendix 1 or 2 of the Convention. The Asian Leopard cat is listed and up to the fourth generation is considered "recent lineage". For these Bengal generation cats you'll need an import/export license. There may be health requirements that can be dealt with by DEFRA (Defra) in the UK (DEFRA stands for Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs). Defra also enforces the The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. This act by implication only includes the Bengal cat. This probably wasn't intended but at the time the act was drafted the Bengal cat was only just being "created" in the USA. For many years Bengal cats required a license (technically) but the issuing of a license was and is the responsibility of the local authority who it seems routinely used discretion to wave the need for a license. As at Oct 2007 the schedule to the The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 has been amended. Defra don't specify exactly that the Bengal cat is excluded from the need for a license (and I have found it hard to research this) but would seem that a license is no longer required. Certainly in practice it wasn't anyway so this simply makes it more formal. As I said F1-F4 Bengal cats are CITES regulated. A license is required. Click on the link below to read what Defra say about importing pet animals into Britain.