Customs Officials Seize Elephant Foot Converted Into Container

Customs officials in Baden-Württemberg have seized a giant elephant's foot sent that had been converted into a velvet-covered container.

The illegal item, which the German customs officials called "tasteless" and lacking the proper paperwork, had been posted from the U.K. to Germany. It was reportedly intended as a gift, to be picked up by an unnamed Swiss person in Weil am Rhein, a town in south-western Germany where the French, German and Swiss borders meet.

A male elephant grazes on December 20, 2020, in the plains of the Mara North Conservancy, Kenya. Officials in Germany have seized an elephant foot turned into a velvet-covered container. Getty Images/Siegfried Modola

But the customs officers in Germany discovered the item in the post and launched an investigation after determining that it was a genuine African elephant's foot. The customs officials said that the elephant foot, from a "highly endangered" and protected species, had been converted into some sort of container or box.

The Main Customs Office in the town of Loerrach, which is also located in Baden-Württemberg, a few miles down the road from Weil am Rhein, said in a statement released on August 18 and obtained by Zenger News: "At the beginning of February this year, officials at the Weil am Rhein customs office seized a real elephant's foot, which had been converted into a container, in a postal item."

Picture shows elephant's foot seized by customs in Weil am Rhein, Germany, undated. The package from the U.K. was intended for a recipient in Switzerland. Hauptzollamt Lörrach/Zenger

The customs officials added that the package had been posted from England and was intended for a Swiss person who had had it shipped to a German pick-up address.

"The customs clearance was therefore carried out at the customs office in Weil am Rhein."

The customs officials explained that African elephants are a protected species, adding: "The appraisal by an expert showed that it was the foot of an African elephant. According to the Federal Nature Conservation Act, elephants are an animal species that is particularly strictly protected and is still highly endangered due to the hunt for ivory, the marketing of which is prohibited in principle."

Maya Jehle, of the customs office in Loerrach, said: "The foot was completely hollowed out from the inside and damaged on top with a red velvet cover and golden fringes. It's totally tasteless."

Officials at the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation in Bonn are now handling the investigation, which is ongoing.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.