Malaysia seizes rare an­i­mal parts worth al­most $1mn

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Malaysia has seized ele­phant tusks and pan­golin scales from Africa worth al­most a mil­lion dol­lars, an of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day, high­light­ing the coun­try's role as a hub for smug­gling rare an­i­mal parts. The con­tra­band was found in two separate raids in the cargo ter­mi­nal of Kuala Lumpur's main in­ter­na­tional air­port on Sun­day, cus­toms of­fi­cials said. In the first raid, au­thor­i­ties found 23 ivory tusks, weigh­ing 75.7 kilo­grams with an es­ti­mated value of 275,000 ring­git.

"Cus­toms of­fi­cers seized two boxes which con­tained a large quan­tity of ele­phant tusks," se­nior cus­toms of­fi­cial Pudzi Man said in a state­ment. The tusks had been sent from Nigeria, and the cargo was listed as food items, he said. Sep­a­rately, of­fi­cials found six sacks con­tain­ing 300.9 kilo­grams (663 pounds) of pan­golin scales worth 3.86 mil­lion ring­git ($900,500), said Pudzi. The cargo had orig­i­nated in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo. No ar­rests have yet been made over the seizures. Ele­phant tusks are in high de­mand in parts of Asia, es­pe­cially China and Viet­nam, where the ivory is prized for dec­o­ra­tive pur­poses and in tra­di­tional medicine. The global trade in ele­phant ivory, with rare ex­cep­tions, has been out­lawed since 1989. The scales of the pan­golin, a crit­i­cally en­dan­gered crea­ture also known as the "scaly anteater" that is the world's most heav­ily traf­ficked mam­mal, are highly sought af­ter in some Asian coun­tries for use in tra­di­tional medicine.

Pan­golin meat is con­sid­ered a del­i­cacy in China and their scales are also some­times used in the pro­duc­tion of crys­tal metham­phetamine. The seizures un­der­line Malaysia's role as a ma­jor tran­sit point in the global wildlife smug­gling trade. Last month, a Viet­namese man was ar­rested at Kuala Lumpur air­port and a large stash of ele­phant ivory found in his lug­gage was seized. Any­one found guilty of im­port­ing rare an­i­mals or their parts into Malaysia can be jailed for up to three years and fined.


KUALA LUMPUR: This hand­out photo by the Royal Malaysian Cus­toms shows seized pan­golin scales dis­played be­fore a press con­fer­ence in Sepang, out­side Kuala Lumpur.

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