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Six tons of pangolin scales seized in southern Vietnam

By Nguyen Khoa   May 24, 2019 | 12:15 am PT
Six tons of pangolin scales seized in southern Vietnam
Pangolin scales smuggled from Nigeria are discovered by customs officials in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, May 23, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Chi
100 bags with six tons of pangolin scales were found hidden in two containers labeled dry cashew nuts shipped from Nigeria on Thursday.

The contraband shipment was sent from Nigeria to a commercial service company in Ho Chi Minh City and discovered by customs authorities in the nearby Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province.

The black market value of six tons of pangolin scales is estimated at several dozen billion dong (VND10 billion = $429,500).

Pangolin trafficking is not rare in Vietnam, although it is legally protected and categorized as endangered.

Earlier this month, Saigon customs officials seized seven tons of pangolin scales imported from Africa in a shipment that was also labeled cashew nuts.

Last week, customs officials in the northern port city of Hai Phong said they had seized eight tons of pangolin scales from Africa in March.

The shy, tiny creature, which resembles a scaly anteater, is the world's most heavily trafficked mammal despite bans. Pangolins are hunted in Vietnam and its neighborhood for their meat and the alleged medicinal properties of their scales.

A December 2017 study by wildlife trade monitoring group Traffic and Australia’s University of Adelaide found that of the 10 countries and territories with the largest number of wildlife trafficking incidents, seven are in Asia – China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Laos and Indonesia.

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