Collector gets police visit after buying endangered crocodile skull on eBay

Reptile-loving collector gets visit from police after snapping up critically-endangered Siamese crocodile’s skull on eBay for £30

  • Man, in his 20s, illegally bought crocodile skull and it was shipped from China
  • The Siamese skull was purchased for £30 on eBay and delivered to Chippenham 
  • Wiltshire Police were made aware of the skull by the National Wildlife Crime Unit 
  • Police say it was an ‘honest mistake’ and will not pursue further criminal action 

By Phoebe Eckersley For Mailonline

Published: 17:20 BST, 20 October 2019 | Updated: 17:20 BST, 20 October 2019

Police were called to a man’s home in Wiltshire after finding he had snapped up an endangered crocodile skull on eBay for £30.

The man, in his 20s, illegally bought the Siamese crocodile skull online and had it shipped from China.

And because it was available on eBay, the man, who is from Chippenham in Wiltshire, thought there was no issue with buying it.

Wiltshire Police were called to a home in Chippenham, Wiltshire, after being notified by the National Wildlife Crime Unit that a man had illegally bought a Siamese crocodile skull online

Wiltshire Police were made aware by the National Wildlife Crime Unit and gave the buyer a shock when they approached him.

He had ‘no idea about the implications’ and just wanted an ‘ornament for the home’, according to Wiltshire Police Rural Crime PC Emily Thomas, who made the first point of contact. 

They were satisfied it was an honest mistake and isolated incident so will not be pursuing further criminal action.

He had ‘no idea about the implications’ and just wanted an ‘ornament for the home’, according to Wiltshire Police Rural Crime PC Emily Thomas, who made the first point of contact. This ‘honest mistake’ means the Police will not be pursuing further criminal action

Ms Thomas said: ‘It is really important that people check what they are purchasing before going ahead. This way you don’t leave yourself liable to prosecution.’

She suggested people speak to their local Wildlife Crime Officer to make appropriate checks as the police can take action against illegal trade in the UK.    

‘Seizures like this one are not only important to help stop illegal trade but are also an opportunity to educate the public about protecting endangered species.’

The Siamese crocodile population is slowly diminishing with only small numbers in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam

The Siamese Crocodile is a critically endangered Annex A species under the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (COTES) Regulations. Their population is slowly diminishing, with only small numbers in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam.

According to the IUCN Red List, the total Siamese crocodile population size is around 500-1000 mature individuals. Meanwhile there are around 100 to 300 adults in Cambodia. 

Under COTES it is an offence to sell, keep for sale, offer for sale, transport for sale, use for a commercial purpose, or purchase anything which is made from an Annex A species.

The illegal trade in endangered species is a huge international business, which makes profits for the poachers, traffickers and traders.

Most of the world’s endangered species that are threatened by trade are killed to be made into products, which are then sold illegally in the UK and other countries.

Siamese crocodiles

Siamese crocodiles are one of the most threatened crocodilians. They were reported almost extinct in the wild in 1992  and were given the IUCN Red List status of ‘Critically Endangered’ four years later. 

Their population is slowly diminishing, with only small numbers in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam. 

According to the IUCN Red List, the total Siamese crocodile population size is around 500-1000 mature individuals. Meanwhile there are around 100 to 300 adults in Cambodia.

They are easily distinguished by their prominent bony rest on the back of their head and reach a maximum length of 3.5m. 

The Siamese is extremely territorial and slap their heads loudly on to the water and snap their jaws on the water’s surface to mark their place.  

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