KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia has seized more than US$2 million (S$2.8 million) worth of scales from pangolins, the world's most poached animal, at Kuala Lumpur airport in the largest haul seen in the country, officials said yesterday.
Acting on a tip-off, customs officials discovered 712kg of scales at the airport's cargo warehouse, where they had been shipped in 18 sacks using false documents, Customs Department assistant director-general Paddy Abdul Halim said.
Wildlife and National Parks Department deputy director of enforcement Rozidan Md Yasin said an estimated 1,400 pangolins had been killed to produce the amount of scales seized.
Malaysia has previously been singled out by wildlife conservationists as a transit point for the illegal trafficking of endangered species to other Asian countries.
Shy and near-sighted, pangolins only venture out from the safety of their burrows or tree-top homes at night to scour for insects. When startled, they curl up into a ball - a technique that is futile against the cable snares set up by hunters.
All eight of the world's species of pangolin are threatened with extinction.
Number of pangolins estimated to have been killed to have produced the amount of scales seized
Amount of scales seized
The scales were shipped from Africa in two separate shipments, Mr Paddy said, from Accra, Ghana, and Kinshasa, Congo. "We are still investigating whether the two shipments are linked," he told a press conference.
No suspects had been detained and it was still unclear whether Malaysia was the final destination for the scales, as no recipients could be traced.