Vietnam seizes 10 tons of pangolin scales, ivory shipped from Africa

By Ngoc Truong   October 5, 2018 | 03:04 am PT
Vietnam seizes 10 tons of pangolin scales, ivory shipped from Africa
Police seize around 10 tons of ivory products and pangolin scales hidden in a plastic waste container at Tien Sa Port in Da Nang on Thursday. Photo by VnExpress/D.X.
In one of Vietnam’s largest wildlife trafficking busts, Da Nang police seized 10 tons of ivory and pangolin scales on Thursday.

Custom officials at the Tien Sa Port in the central city of Da Nang joined forces with officers from the Ministry of Public Security in the crackdown.

They discovered ivory and pangolin scales weighing around 10 tons hidden in a plastic waste container imported from Nigeria.

The container was sent to the Thien Truong Su Company in Nghe An Province, a 12-hour drive to the north of Da Nang.

At the time of inspection, the company failed to provide legal documents to specify the origin and description of the shipment.

Police said they are investigating the issue further to identify those involved.

Thursday’s raid came a week after authorities at the Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi seized nearly a ton of ivory and pangolin scales hidden in cargo boxes, also sent from Nigeria.

Vietnamese law prohibits the hunting, killing, trade and transportation of wild animals, but the high returns continue to lure many people into trafficking networks.

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

Vietnam outlawed the ivory trade in 1992, but the country remains a top market for ivory products prized locally for decorative and medicinal purposes, according to conservation groups.

The country is also a busy thoroughfare for tusks trafficked from Africa destined for other parts of Asia, conservationists say. A report from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a London-based NGO, last month ranked Vietnam among the top 10 countries for ivory smuggling.

Since 2009, Vietnamese authorities have been able to seize more than 56 tons of ivory. About 20 tons of ivory linked to Vietnam were seized in other countries in the same period. This is equivalent to nearly 11,500 elephants, the EIA report said.

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