Saturday 18 November 2017

Crocodile heads and hippo ivory among seizures at airport

Eight alligator heads were seized by customs officials (PA)
Eight alligator heads were seized by customs officials (PA)

Alligator and crocodile heads, pieces of coral and illegal ivory were among the items seized by customs tackling the banned trade of endangered animals this year.

Revenue said its officers made seven seizures, with most of them spotted in suspicious packages posted into the country.

In one instance, a foot-long piece of ivory was discovered in unaccompanied luggage at Dublin Airport.

In another instance, a woman was found to be entirely innocent when asked to explain moose antlers she was carrying through the airport but had failed to declare.


She was allowed to continue on her journey home after revealing they had been bought legally in Savannah, Georgia, and that the animal is not threatened by extinction.

A seized piece of coral (PA)
A seized piece of coral (PA)

Mark Newman, from Revenue Customs Prohibitions and Restrictions section in Dublin Castle, said the internet had turned into a supermarket for trade in illegal animal products.

"There's certainly the element of having something that is taboo, but when it came to the detections that we made, like the alligator heads, we didn't see any connections with black magic or voodoo," he said.

"It's more for the decorative or ornamental side of things."

Elsewhere, a parcel of eight alligator heads was intercepted in An Post's mail sorting centre after being posted from the US.

Other seizures included a wallet made from the skin of the critically endangered Siamese crocodile, which had been sent to Ireland from Thailand.

There were also five conch shells being brought in from the Bahamas, three pieces of coral and one piece of hippo tusk ivory.

Customs said the illegal products were all confiscated under laws governing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Species controlled by the convention can only be moved in and out of Ireland with special licences.

"The advice that we would give is that people should contact authorities to see if they have something that would need a licence, an export licence," said Mr Newman.

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