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£150,000 haul of ivory tusks found in dead man’s attic

Marked for destruction: Curator Ian Mason with two of the tusks PIC: SWNS

THREE ivory elephant tusks each worth £50,000 have been found in a deceased pensioner’s attic.

The precious items — all weighing 2st 9lb — were discovered by a woman acting as executor for the man’s estate as she was clearing out his home.

Deciding she didn’t want to keep them, the woman donated the tusks to the Chatteris Museum in Cambridgeshire, which intends to hand them over for destruction so they don’t appear on the black market.

Curator Ian Mason said: ‘She had inherited them but wanted to do the right thing and get rid of them in a responsible way, so she came to the museum and produced them out of the back of a Mini.’

The large tusks have a form of ‘licence stamp’ on them and are thought to have come from South Africa. Their age is not yet known.

Mr Mason contacted the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which has run four ‘ivory surrenders’ in the UK that have collected more than 500 unwanted pieces. ‘We’re extremely pleased to have made a positive contribution to elephant protection,’ he added.

In April, the government announced a new ivory ban that comes in next year.

David Cowdrey, of the IFAW, said: ‘Elephant populations are at an all-time low and the species is facing extinction due to the ivory poaching crisis.

‘With at least 20,000 elephants killed for their ivory each year, we are heartened to hear stories of people rejecting ivory ownership and are grateful to Chatteris Museum for contacting us.’