Hertfordshire trader fined for selling illegally imported elephant hair

The jewellery was labelled "elephant hair", and contained DNA from African elephants

The jewellery was labelled "elephant hair", and contained DNA from African elephants - Credit: Metropolitan Police

A Hertfordshire trader who sold jewellery containing endangered elephant hair has been fined.

Maharaj Sivasundram, aged 40, sold the jewellery which contained the illegally imported hair at a shop in Wembley, north London.

On Friday, April 29, Sivasundram was found guilty of seven counts of offering the sale of products containing specimens derived from endangered species at Harrow Crown Court.

One of the items which contained the illegally imported animal hair

One of the items which contained the illegally imported animal hair - Credit: Metropolitan Police

The trader, who lives on Malden Fields in Bushey, was fined £8,400, required to pay costs of £3,500, and pay a surcharge of £170.

The Metropolitan Police began their investigation into Sivasundram in 2017, when they discovered a shop in Wembley which advertised gold jewellery - including rings and bangles containing elephant hair - for sale.

The Met discovered that the hair was illegally imported without a license.

On May 15, 2018, officers searched the shop and seized jewellery, and they interviewed Sivasundram under caution.

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Tests by the Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) lab identified DNA from African elephants, which are listed as endangered by the International union for Conservation of Nature.

African elephants are endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature

African elephants are endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature - Credit: Martin Harvey/WWF

Detective Constable Sarah Bailey, from the Met's Wildlife Crime Unit, said tackling the sale of illegal animal hair helps to stem poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.

DC Bailey said: "There are legal requirements surrounding the sale of specimens derived from protected or endangered species, requirements which had not been met in this case.

"African elephants continue to be poached, activity which partners globally are trying to prevent, so it is incredibly worrying that illegal derivatives from elephants have appeared for sale in London.

"We will continue to identify and prosecute those profiting in London from the illegal trade of endangered species from around the world."