A Wiltshire man was left stunned after police knocked on his door to seize a crocodile skull he had bought online days before.

The man, who is from Chippenham and is in his twenties, bought the skull of a critically endangered Siamese crocodile on eBay for just £30.

He was unaware he had done anything wrong until officers from Wiltshire Police’s rural crime team knocked on his door.

They were tipped off by the National Wildlife Crime Unit, who learned of the skull purchase after it was dispatched from China.

The buyer, who is from Chippenham, had no idea it was illegal to buy the item. Credit: Wiltshire Police

PC Emily Thomas, who seized the skull, said the buyer wrongly believed that because it was available to buy on eBay, it was legal.

We were made aware by the National Wildlife Crime Unit about the skull and this individual certainly had quite the surprise when I made contact. He had no idea about the implications of his purchase and just wanted an unusual ornament for his home. He thought as it was available to buy on eBay, there wasn’t any issue. After speaking to the individual we were satisfied this was an honest mistake and an isolated incident so no further criminal action has been taken. >

PC Emily Thomas

The Siamese crocodile is a critically endangered species and is therefore subject to strict regulations making it illegal to sell, keep for sale, offer for sale, transport for sale, use for a commercial purpose or purchase anything which is made from the 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.