The package, which came from Indonesia, was deemed suspicious when it arrived at the central customs office in Frankfurt last year, resulting in it being sent on to the recipient's local customs office in Düsseldorf.
The find was only made public on Tuesday, after the 51-year-old man came to claim the package, which contained a monkey’s arm and the skeleton of a tropical hornbill.
At his home and office, customs found more than 80 stuffed animals, skulls and bones; many of which are highly endangered species.
During the search, the investigators also found the vertebra of a whale and a stuffed falcon wearing an SS-cap.
Many of the animals were decorated with various ornaments, jewellery and paraphernalia, Ruth Haliti from the customs office in Hesse, told The Local. “A white spoonbill was wearing a rosary, some were holding dolls. So far we don't think the SS-cap had any serious connotations,” she said.
The rooms looked like a private museum, said Eva Leinkenjost, the leading investigator on the case. “Many of my colleagues involved said they had never seen anything like it,” she said.
Volker Grün, a biologist at the Duisburg Zoo, is helping the investigators with the case. “The worst thing was the sheer bad taste of some of the pieces,” he said. The shocked biologist said many of the animals had been prepared amateurishly.
Under the Federal Native Conservation Act, the sentence for the illegal possession and trade of highly endangered species and plants can carry five years in jail.
Evidence of commercial trade has so far not been detected in the case. “What we currently do know, is that the man was a passionate collector”, said Leinkenjost.
The stuffed animals will be exhibited at zoos and universities when the case ends, said biologist Volker Grün.