SEPANG, Malaysia – Hundreds of kilograms of seized pangolin scales and elephant tusks were displayed by Malaysian customs officials on Wednesday near Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) following a recent smuggling attempt.
Officials from the Royal Malaysian Customs Department (RMC) laid out some of the seized items on a table at the Customs Cargo Complex, including large bags of the wide scales and at least a dozen tusks, an epa journalist reported.
In total, the haul comprised 300.9 kilograms of the mammals’ scales, which came from the Congo and were found in the cargo of an Ethiopian Airlines flight, and 75.74 kilograms of elephant tusks found in a separate seizure from an Etihad Airways flight, according to a press release from the customs authority.
The tusks reportedly originated in Nigeria.
The items were seized Sunday night in an air cargo warehouse, Mohammad Pudzi Man, of the Customs Department, said in the release, adding that the scales were sent to a fake address in the free trade zone.
This is the fifth seizure of pangolin scales this year from KLIA, Man said.
The scales of the pangolin – a mammal resembling an anteater – are worth 1,000-1,500 ringgit ($233-$350) per kilogram on the Malaysian market, while the tusks are worth 275,000 ringgit ($64,136).
Pangolin scales are sought for traditional medicine in East Asia, and the illegal trade in pangolin parts is one of the causes of the mammal’s threatened status, with all eight species of pangolin being classified as vulnerable or critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.