It’s a horrible list: a monkey paw, whale ear bones, gray wolf and bear skins, elephant feet and orangutan skulls. All the memories people wanted to bring to Australia.

Instead, these items seized at the Australian border will soon be used to aid in search and potentially criminal investigations into the illegal wildlife trade. They are among 200 banned animal products donated to the Australian Museum of Science and Education in Sydney.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley inspects the input room of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Environment in Canberra.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Hundreds more are stored in the basement of a government building in Canberra after being confiscated by officials from the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley told Nine News that such stories “went hand in hand with very evil trading” – often with links to organized crime.

“But good comes from these seized products,” she said. “[Scientists] can examine them, they can learn from them, they can perform tests and, in some cases, inform our scientific effort, which aims to protect animals internationally.

Australian Museum chief scientist Professor Kris Helgen said the donated objects will be included in a reference collection of more than 20 million objects used by scientists around the world.

Hundreds of items are stored in the basement of a government building in Canberra after being confiscated by officials.

Hundreds of items are stored in the basement of a government building in Canberra after being confiscated by officials.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

They would not only be used for research, but could also play a role in helping Australian and international authorities crack down on poaching and the multi-billion dollar global wildlife trade.

“Some of these background documents are used by our scientists for things like prosecuting wildlife trafficking cases,” Professor Helgen said.

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