Illegal ivory, alligator and crocodile heads among items seized by customs
ILLEGAL ivory, alligator and crocodile heads 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 Republic.
In one instance a foot-long piece of ivory was discovered in unaccompanied luggage at Dublin Airport.
And in a stop-and-search a woman was found to be entirely innocent when asked to explain moose antlers she was carrying through the airport but failed to declare at customs.
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.
Mark Newman, from Revenue Customs Prohibitions and Restrictions section in Dublin Castle, said the internet had turned into a huge 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, or the fantasy."
Elsewhere, a parcel of eight alligator heads was intercepted in An Post's mail sorting centre in Portlaoise 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 the Republic 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 which was also found in Dublin Airport.
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 granted by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Mr Newman added: "We don't really see the large-scale trafficking of material listed under Cites laws into Ireland. It's not as if we are not a hub for it.
"But 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.
"Something might look attractive to buy but there could be major restrictions and ultimately people could find themselves facing a prosecution."