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April 11, 2022

Potential CITES violations and a seizure of specimens from one (of many) large hunted animals collections in Spain.

Image Credit:  Guardia Civil, Spain

It wasn't until an October 9,  2019 El Pais journalist Manual Ansede wrote an article about the hunting compulsion of Spain's Marcial Gómez Sequeira showing hundreds of animals mounted on taxidermy stands at his luxury chalet in La Moraleja (Alcobendas) in North Madrid.

In general though, over the years, the public hasn't taken much notice of country's wealthy gentlemen and their hunting obsessions.  But, as the result of that article, the Spanish national police opened an investigation, looking into potential violations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES, the international agreement between governments which aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.

When interviewed for the El Pais article, collector Marcial Gómez Sequeira told journalist Ansede that he estimated, if he added all his hunting trips together, that he had been firing bullets into animals for 24 hours a day over the course of 11 years and three months of his life.   All the while hiding in plain sight while proudly  documenting his kills in multiple forums on film and in print. 

Sequeira's wealth cam from the company Sanitas, founded in 1954 by a group of Spanish doctors, including Marcial Gómez Gil, the father of Marcial Gómez Sequeira, who became the firms first CEO as majority shareholder. In the 1960s when his father left that position the role fell to his son, who remained the majority shareholder of the company until 1988.

Marcial Gómez Sequeira has stated that he went on his first hunting safari in 1971, in Mozambique where he claimed he paid 60,000 pesetas (€360) and was responsible for shooting some 35 species, including a zebra, a lion, a hippopotamus and an elephant. After that he starts hunting/collecting seriously and over the next 48 years has told reporters he went on hunting safaris three or four times per year.

Not the sole wealthy Spaniard with a passion for holding a gun, in 1973 Marcial Gómez Sequeira’s is known to have been on a hunting trip in Persia (Iran) at the invitation of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, at the Shah’s hunting reserve. There he met the future King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, who had also been invited by the Shah’s brother.  The pair would go on to hunt with one another on occasion afterwards. 

In 1988 as the majority shareholder of Sanitas, Marcial Gómez Sequeira sold his shares in the company to British multinational BUPA for almost 22 billion pesetas, the equivalent of €130 million.  In doing so, in doing so, he failed to declare in personal income tax, the capital gains from the sale of his shares, some 9,541 million pesetas, or the equivalent of 57 million euros.  In the later 2019 El Pais article, Gómez Sequeira reported that he had used the proceeds earned from his company's sale to further pursue his trophy hunting, stating:

“Three years ago I tried to calculate the time I have spent hunting,” ...“I worked out that I had been shooting for 24 hours a day over the course of 11 years and three months of my life. Firing bullets non-stop.”

October 2011 
Between 2011 and 2014 Marcial Gómez Sequeira’s authored three books on his hunts: 
Últimas cruzadas (The Last Crusades), with a prologue by Norbert Ullmann and Jesús Caballero.  His 190-page memoir, with numerous color photographs, maps and sketches, collects, as its name suggests, the author's last hunts in the former Soviet Union, with an epilogue of five other mountain hunts.

Aventuras de ahora y siempre describing his hunting in places like Cameroon,  Canada, Gredos, los Puertos de Tortosa-Beceite and Batuecas.

2014 Facebook Photo of Stiliyan Kadrev
"Un año increíble" which catalogues kills in Africa, the Caucasus, Central Europe and the Philippines.

In 2016 Buglarian big game journalist and sometimes hunting companion Stiliyan Kadrev filmed the draw of the Big Game market in Spain and the animals killed by Marcial Gómez Sequeira inside his Madrid home.  He also documented the Spanish millionaire's November 2015 trip to Tallinn, Estonia for guided trophy Elk hunting as well as a trip to the taiga forests in Russia hunting for Eurasian lynx.  By this point, Kadrev documents that Gómez Sequeira has already accumulated specimens from 370 species. 

Continuing on with the latest trend in the big game industry which entices wealthy hunters into killing animals of unusual colours for sport, Marcial Gómez Sequeira travelled to South Africa on a game hunting trip with his 15-year-old grandson.  There, the owners of ranches auction off uniquely coloured members of any one species after raising them in captivity. During this safari he admits to having killed a golden wildebeest, a black impala, a golden oryx and a copper-coloured Springbok.  

By March 2019 Guillermo Fernández Vara and the mayor of Olivenza, Manuel González Andrade (PSOE) had established a preliminary agreement to set up the Marcial Gómez Sequeira Collection Hunting Museum, which had aims of displaying some 1,250 trophy kills by the collector inside an 18th-century building known as the Cavalry Barracks in the village of Olivenza, in one of Spain’s poorest regions, Extremadura.  

The preliminary agreement signed by Gómez Sequeira and Fernández Vara was to involve handing the collection over to a new semi-public foundation and calculating its financial value so that Extremadura authorities can invest half of that again. 

Talking with the reporter, Gómez Sequeira strolled through his home explaining where each animal was hunted and killed. There, the reporter noted a leopard from Zimbabwe, a tiger from Thailand, a lion from South Africa, an ocelot wildcat from Mexico, a cheetah from Namibia, a white rhinoceros from Angola, a wolf from Alaska, a monkey from Cameroon, an armadillo from the US, an African golden cat from Liberia, a spotted hyena from Mozambique, a crocodile from Tanzania and even a polar bear from Canada.

Each of the stuffed animals documented represented just some of the animals Marcial Gómez Sequeira has killed in his world travels for big and small game hunting. In total the collector himself estimated that he has thousands of taxidermied animals, including more than 420 species.

After the article's publication, the mayor of Olivenza, Manuel González Andrade withdrew his support for the collector's proposed hunting museum, writing on Facebook saying: 

"This project does not represent us, it does not represent the men and women of this town, nor does it represent the future of progress in Olivenza, which is why it will not be given space in any public municipal building."

By November 2021 and as public outcry increased with the attention the El Pais article drew, Spanish police opened an investigation into Gómez Sequeira's hunting/collecting practices to determine if the collector has been involved in the alleged trafficking of protected species. 

As a result of this investigation, Gómez Sequeira is unable to produce the import and handling paperwork documenting 49 animal specimens on taxidermy mounts, four elephant tusks, four hippopotamus canines, two rhinoceros horns and 132 carved ivory pieces.  Each of these was seized and taken to the National Museum of Natural Science in Madrid.

In a follow-up newspaper article, Gómez Sequeira claimed that some of the animals in question were acquired before the CITES global convention on the trade of endangered species went into effect in 1975. 

Likewise, the Valencia police's Nature Protection Team, begin looking into another Spanish hunter's collection. 

Image Credit:  Guardia Civil

Inside the storage facility officers working  operación “VALCITES” located the preserved remains of cheetahs, leopards, lions, lynxes, polar bears, white rhinos and a total of 198 elephant tusks, not to mention the cut off feet of elephants, the bounty of a lifetime of serial killing for gratification. 

In total the officers documented 405 specimens representing species considered protected by CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.  Those included a scimitar oryx, declared extinct in the wild by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2000 and specimens representing the severely threatened addax or white antelope and the Bengal tiger.

While the name of the owner of the specimens involved in this seizure was not mentioned in the Guardia Civil's announcement,  Marcial Gómez Sequeira is not the only Spaniard with an insatiable desire for blood sport.  Tony Sanches-Arino, another of the country's major sports hunters, has logged some 4,044 kills (1,317 being elephants).  And this week's seizure is believed to be the inherited property of one of the sons of well-known Valencian businessman Francisco Ros Casares, the steel entrepreneur and former president of Valencia CF, who died in 2014. 

ARCA wishes wealthy people would simply take up golf. It has a lower carbon footprint than rampant blood sport, and white men, chasing little white balls are less likely to upset the delicate balance the world's wildlife.