A £30 skull room decoration brought police knocking on the door of a Chippenham man, when it turned out to be the bones of a critically endangered Siamese crocodile.

The man, whom police are not naming, in his 20s bought the skull on eBay and was horrified when he found the force on his doorstep

Rural Crime PC Emily Thomas said, “We were made aware by the National Wildlife Crime Unit about the skull and this man 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 him we were satisfied this was an honest mistake and an isolated incident, so no criminal action has been taken.”

She had this warning for collectors of unusual items: “It is really important that people check what they are purchasing before going ahead. This way you don’t leave yourself liable to prosecution. If you have any doubts you can speak to your local Wildlife Crime Officer who can help you make the appropriate checks.

“The police have the power to take action against illegal trade here in the UK,” said PC Thomas. “Seizures like this one are not only important to help stop illegal trade but are also an opportunity to educate the public about protecting endangered species.”

The Siamese Crocodile is a critically endangered Annex A species under the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (COTES) Regulations.

Under COTES it is an offence to sell, keep for sale, offer for sale, transport for sale, use for a commercial purpose, or purchase anything which claims to be made from an Annex A 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.