Malaysian Customs officers seize 288kg of pangolin scales at Kuala Lumpur International Airport

Malaysian customs officers have seized almost 300 kilograms of pangolin scales being smuggled through the main airport, officials said on June 13, 2017.
Malaysian customs officers have seized almost 300 kilograms of pangolin scales being smuggled through the main airport, officials said on June 13, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysian Customs officers have seized almost 300kg of pangolin scales being smuggled through the main airport, officials said on Tuesday (June 13).

The 288kg haul was found at Kuala Lumpur International Airport last Friday (June 9) in 12 boxes labelled as oyster shells on the waybill.

The scales, worth around RM3.69 million (S$1.2 million), arrived from Ghana on a Turkish Airlines flight, the customs department said in a statement.

The authorities are investigating.

The scales of the endangered pangolin, the world's most heavily trafficked mammal, are highly prized in Vietnam and China, where they are misleadingly touted as having medicinal properties.

Malaysia last month made its largest haul of such scales, 712kg estimated to be worth more than RM9 million.

Pangolins are indigenous to the jungles of Indonesia, parts of Malaysia and areas of southern Thailand, and their meat is considered a delicacy in China.

Four pangolin species can also be found in Africa. Increasingly they are smuggled to South-east Asia from Africa, but the majority go to China.

Soaring demand has seen an estimated one million pangolins plucked from Asian and African forests over the past decade.