Man illegally sold gold jewellery containing hair from African elephants

A man has been found guilty of illegally selling gold jewellery containing hair from African elephants, Scotland Yard said.

Maharaj Sivasundram, 40, was found guilty on Friday at Harrow Crown Court of seven counts of offering the sale of products containing specimens derived from endangered species, according to the Metropolitan Police.

The Met said Sivasundram, of Malden Fields, Bushey, was fined £8,400.

Police said it was in 2017 that detectives discovered a shop in Wembley advertising gold jewellery, including rings and bangles, containing elephant hair, for sale.

Products containing elephant hair are considered a good luck charm in some parts of the world. 

Inquiries were carried out to ascertain whether the establishment had ever legally imported elephant hair jewellery, but police said no permits had ever been issued.

The Met said officers carried out a search warrant at the premises on May 15 2018 and a large quantity of gold jewellery containing black fibres was seized.

Sivasundram was not arrested at this time, but was later interviewed under caution.

Police said forensic tests conducted by the Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) laboratory on samples of the jewellery detected DNA from African elephants.

Baby bangles offered for sale at the venue were labelled as 'elephant hair', the Met said.

Detective Constable Sarah Bailey, from the Met's Wildlife Crime Unit, 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.'