Vietnam finds a ton of pangolin scales, ivory in unclaimed baggage

By AFP   October 1, 2018 | 04:37 am PT
Vietnam finds a ton of pangolin scales, ivory in unclaimed baggage
Vietnamese customs officials checking pangolin scales seized in Hanoi. Photo by AFP
Hanoi authorities Friday found pangolin scales and ivory weighing almost a ton flown in from Nigeria.

The latest haul is evidence of weak enforcement in Vietnam that experts have blamed for allowing a black market in wildlife trade to flourish and feed into a global multibillion dollar industry in animal parts and exotic pets.

Southeast Asian countries have become a busy thoroughfare for tusks trafficked from Africa and destined for other parts of Asia, mainly China, it has been reported.

Pangolins are treasured in Vietnam and the region for their meat and alleged medicinal properties of their scales.

Vietnam has banned trade in tusks and pangonlins, but the practice has continued.

On Friday at the Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi, officials found 805 kilograms of pangolin scales as well as 193 kilograms of ivory and ivory-derived products in two dozen boxes.

The bust was reported in the official publication of the General Department of Customs.

The goods were sent from two companies based in Nigeria, according to their labels. They had arrived on a September 21 flight, but were never picked up.

"The (intended) recipients of the cargo package have refused to receive the goods," the article said.

It carried photos of a pile of the pangolin scales on the floor as inspectors went through the boxes, which were initially covered in an extra layer of wrapping and taped shut.

The tiny and shy pangolin, which resembles a scaly anteater, is the world's most heavily trafficked mammal despite bans.

Vietnam outlawed the ivory trade in 1992 but illegal trade still persists and shops sell ivory pre-dating the ban for decorative and medicinal purposes.

Last year police found 2.7 tons of tusks inside cartons on the back of a truck in the central province of Thanh Hoa.

In October 2016, customs officials seized about 3.5 tons of tusks at the Cat Lai port in Ho Chi Minh City.

go to top