Ivory tusks worth £50k each found in elderly man's attic to be destroyed after being gifted to Chatteris Museum

Ian Mason, curator of Chatteris Museum, with the tusks. Photo. SWNS
Ian Mason, curator of Chatteris Museum, with the tusks. Photo. SWNS
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Three ivory elephant tusks worth £50k each will be destroyed after being found in a dead elderly man's attic in Cambridgeshire.

The precious items individually weighing 17kg - the same as an average four-year-old - were discovered by a woman acting as the executor of the pensioner's will as she was clearing out his home.

Deciding she didn't want to keep them, the woman donated the huge teeth to a local museum.

But the institution's curator has now said they will be handed over for destruction to stop them from ending up on the black market.

Ian Mason, curator of Chatteris Museum, said: "While carrying out the removal, the lady went up into the attic and noticed what she thought was one tusk.

"When she got round to sorting through everything, she realised there were in fact three.

“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 small Mini."

The tusks, which would measure around 6ft straight, have a form of "licence stamp" on them, and are thought to have come from South Africa.

However, 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 in recent years where more than 500 unwanted ivory pieces were donated.

The curator said: "We knew that we didn't want to display the ivory at our museum but, like many other institutions, we were unsure of the best way to process unwanted ivory and wanted to make sure the pieces didn't make their way back on to the market.

"We contacted IFAW who kindly talked us through the process and we're extremely pleased to have made a positive contribution to elephant protection."

In April, the Government announced a new UK ivory ban, which is due to come into force next year.

Environment secretary Michael Gove claimed it would be the toughest ban of its kind in Europe.

David Cowdrey, head of policy and campaigns at IWAF, 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."

He added: “Every piece of ivory represents a dead elephant, cruelly shot or poisoned so its tusks can be used to make trinkets that none of us need.

"IFAW believes ivory should only ever be valued on a live, wild elephant."