Posted skulls pose biosecurity threat

Date:
Media contact: William Minchin

A box of South African animal skulls crawling with maggots never made it through the post, thanks to the work of vigilant Auckland biosecurity staff.

A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) dog team recently detected the unusual biosecurity threat at the International Mail Centre near Auckland airport.

Once opened, the box revealed a number of wild animal skulls, thought to include zebra and wildebeest.

“There was clearly some flesh on the bones, as you could see maggots writhing beneath and on top of the cellophane wrapping,” says Aynsley Richards, MPI Auckland Team Leader, Border Clearance Services.

The intended recipient of the box chose to pay to have the skulls treated with formalin and methyl bromide rather than have them destroyed or reshipped to another country.

“One thing for sure is they weren’t coming to New Zealand without treatment – the biosecurity risk to New Zealand’s animal product industries would have been too great.”

MPI is currently holding the skulls until they are identified by the Department of Conservation.  

“We need to make sure they do not include any species covered by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).”

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