Man Admits to Selling Sperm Whale Teeth on Facebook Marketplace
The charges are related to the importation and sale of sperm whale teeth between August and September last year.
Image by Emma Li

A soldier in the British Army has admitted to illegally selling a collection of sperm whale teeth on Facebook Marketplace.

According to reports, Lance Corporal Tevita Lavaki, serving in the British Army’s Catering Corps, had more than £18,350 worth of whale teeth at his home in Grove, Oxfordshire, which was searched by police in September of last year.

Lavaki pleaded guilty at Oxford Magistrates Court on Thursday to breaking three of the Trade in Endangered Species regulations by offering for sale, keeping for sale, and selling the sperm whale teeth.

The investigation started following an anonymous tip-off about social media ads for the items. The information was passed on to Thames Valley Police, who contacted the Wildlife Crime Unit.

Investigators confirmed that the teeth in the Facebook pictures came from sperm whales, which are listed as an endangered species.

When he was interviewed, Lavaki admitted to the charges but said he did not to know he needed a license to sell the teeth.

According to the Mirror

Defending, Lucy Ffrench said the pleas were entered on a basis consistent with what he told the police in his interview.

The whale teeth were extremely valuable in Fiji, where Lavaki is from. Called tabua, the polished teeth are commonly given as wedding gifts or as presents on other special occasions.

Father-of-three Lavaki had set out his position in his interview, when he said he had wanted the sperm whale teeth “for his family”.

Ms Ffrench said: “Because he has Fijian friends, he was starting to receive offers for sale.”

WSC Staff

WSC Staff

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