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Hunter’s trophy highlights the plight of elephants

20 July 2010 by Sam

We’ve already featured a rather famous whisky bottle on the blog, which is one of the new objects that came into the collection of the UK Border Agency National Museum following the closure of Greenock Customs House. If you come to one of the summer events at the Seized! gallery – which displays the UK Border Agency National Museum’s collections – then you could see another new acquisition from Greenock Customs House up close. Joyce Parr, education manager at Seized, explains:


stool made from an elephant's foot with a padded seat on top

“The Seized! handling collection has a new addition, an enormous elephant’s foot stool. That’s a stool made from an elephant’s foot, not a footstool for an elephant!

The elephant foot was a hunting trophy that was seized off a commercial hunter. It had been made into a stool, topped with a padded leather seat. The toes and hair can still be seen on the skin. It has also been crudely painted. The hunter was based in the south of England and worked with tourists in Africa. Protected as an endangered species the elephant foot was held under the international convention called CITES, as part of a larger seizure. The police assisted by Customs secured the seizure.

It’s such a bizarre object that people often find it hard to believe it’s real. This is where the excitement of being able to handle a museum artefact really kicks in, when visitors touch the foot they can feel the hairs on the skin and many people are quite shocked and fascinated by the experience. On closer inspection there are marks visible on the base of the foot which also indicate its authenticity.

The foot is available for observation during many of the Seized public events, including ‘Model magic’, ‘SOS – save our species’, ‘Mobile madness’ and ‘Beads and baggage’. These craft sessions all highlight the plight of endangered species and the role of the Customs Officers (UK Border Agency) in contributing to their protection. Full details of upcoming events are in the Seized events programme on the website.”

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