Christchurch biosecurity staff have started the new year with the bizarre seizure of a crocodile skull designed to be worn as a giant pendant.
A passenger arriving at Christchurch International Airport from Indonesia declared the skull to Ministry for Primary Industries officers earlier this week.
The passenger was planning to wear the pendant to parties. He was disappointed to lose it, says Michael Walker, MPI Border Clearance Team Manager South.
The skull was nearly 25cm long and was attached to a string with a macrame basket.
“There’s the obvious biosecurity risk of such items carrying pests or diseases. But the main reason for seizing the skull was New Zealand’s obligations under the Trade in Endangered Species Act,” says Walker.
“The passenger didn’t have an official permit, so the skull couldn’t come in.”
Walker says the passenger did the right thing in declaring the skull to MPI.
“For biosecurity reasons, we want all arriving passengers to declare or dispose of biosecurity goods before they enter New Zealand. We take a hard line on those who don’t.
“Passengers should be aware of the biosecurity risk of any souvenirs they bring back from overseas.”
The skull has since been handed to the Department of Conservation.
Walker says it is unusual for MPI staff to intercept crocodile heads, but that they occasionally come through from Australia.
“I have to say it’s very odd to see one used as a macrame necklace.”
Photo of croc skull pendant available on request.
Please note that this border interception was made by Ministry for Primary Industries staff, not NZ Customs.