Postal workers in France confiscated over 700 animal skulls being mailed to the U.S.during a seven-month span, officials said.
Customs officials in Roissy-en-France, a suburb of Paris, opened a package early May 2022 and found seven primate skulls inside, the French Directorate-General of Customs and Indirect Taxes said in a news release.
Over the next seven months, they continued checking the mail and found a total of 718 animal skulls, the release said.
The skulls were mainly sent from Cameroon and were en route to the U.S., officials said. They were intended for collectors or for use by hunting associations as prizes and gifts, according to the release.
French officials said they seized 392 skulls from primates protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, such as chimpanzees and mandrills. Under CITES, protected animals can only be transported with specific permits.
None of the seized packages had such permits, French officials said. Some packages contained entire specimens, arms or heads of primates that were destroyed for health reasons, according to the release.
“Trafficking protected species is one of the most profitable businesses, after drugs, arms and human beings,” Gilbert Beltran, a Roissy customs official, said, per Euronews.
Postal workers also confiscated 326 other animal skulls, including birds of prey, cats, monitor lizards and otters, the release said.
Officials said “skulls are seized on an almost daily basis,” according to Euronews.
The confiscated primate skulls were given to the Aix-en-Provence Natural History Museum, customs officials said in a Sept. 21 post on X, formerly Twitter. Officials also gave the other confiscated skulls to the museum, per the release.
Google Translate was used to translate the news release and post on X, formerly Twitter, from the French Directorate-General of Customs and Indirect Taxes.