Giraffe bones, canned whale meat and a monkey skull were just some of the items seized by the Department of Conservation as part of an international wildlife sting.
Along with 103 countries, Interpol and World Customs Organisation, DOC took part in Operation Thunder 2020, a coordinated operation against the illegal trade of wildlife.
DOC seized 53 illegally traded wildlife transported to New Zealand through mail, freight and cargo during the two-month operation.
Among the items DOC seized were whale teeth, a crocodile skin knife sheath, dried shark meat and some traditional Chinese medicine products.
DOC issued fines between $600 and $800 and is says it’s pursuing prosecution against a small number of illegal importer of wildlife products.
“Even with the New Zealand border restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are still experiencing a continuous illegal influx of unpermitted protected wildlife,” says DOC principal compliance officer Dylan Swain.
“The ability to purchase internationally online is not a guarantee your purchase can be legally imported into New Zealand – please do your background research before pushing the ‘buy now’ button.”
Other international seizures include 187 raw elephant tusks in Cameroon, an adult female white tiger, a jaguar and a four-month-old lion cub rescued from smugglers in Mexico and an 18-tonne shipment of red sandalwood seized in India.
The global operation ran from September 14 to October 11 and saw the seizure of more than 45,000 live animals and plants and 699 offenders apprehended in the attempt to stopping the trade of vulnerable species.