Malaysia seizes rare animal parts worth $1.4m

This handout photo from the Royal Malaysian Customs shows some of the seized elephant ivory tusks displayed at a press conference in Sepang.
This handout photo from the Royal Malaysian Customs shows some of the seized elephant ivory tusks displayed at a press conference in Sepang.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia has seized elephant tusks and pangolin scales from Africa worth almost US$1 million (S$1.37 million), an official said yesterday, highlighting the country's role as a hub for smuggling rare animal parts.

The contraband was found during two separate raids in the cargo terminal of Kuala Lumpur's main international airport on Sunday, Customs officials said.

In the first raid, the authorities found 23 ivory tusks, weighing 75.7kg, with an estimated value of RM275,000 (S$87,200).

"Customs officers seized two boxes which contained a large quantity of elephant tusks," senior Customs official Pudzi Man said in a statement yesterday.

The tusks had been sent from Nigeria and the cargo was listed as food items, he said.

Separately, officials found six sacks containing 300.9kg of pangolin scales worth RM3.86 million, said Mr Pudzi. The cargo had originated in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

No arrests have yet been made over the seizures.

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.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2017, with the headline 'Malaysia seizes rare animal parts worth $1.4m'. Print Edition | Subscribe