Trove of wild skins and skulls seized in Australia

August 11, 2011
A photo issued by the Australian Department of the Environment shows hundreds of preserved exotic illegal animal parts seized in a raid in Sydney. Orangutan, lion and bear skulls were among hundreds of illegal wildlife products seized in the police operation on a property in the Australian city.

Orangutan, lion and bear skulls were among hundreds of illegal wildlife products seized in a raid on a property in Sydney, the Australian environment department said on Thursday.

Investigators also discovered the skins of a lynx and an Alaskan wolf, as well as numerous other and pieces of ivory, in the haul of almost 400 items.

"Operation Bonaparte is one of the largest wildlife seizures in Australia, and follows detailed monitoring and investigative work by departmental officers," department spokeswoman Deb Callister said.

The raid at a house in the suburb of Parramatta on Wednesday also uncovered a variety of weapons, including two walking canes containing hidden swords, flick knives and cross bows.

A 41-year-old man was charged with weapons offences and is due to appear in court on August 31. No charges have yet been laid over the wildlife stash.

Trade in many of the items that were discovered in the property is strictly regulated under the Convention on International Trade in of and Flora. Offences can carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail.

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