Malaysia: RM4mil animal parts seized - pangolins and ivory

The Star 3 Aug 17;

PETALING JAYA: Nearly RM4mil worth of trafficked ivory and pangolin scales were found in an air cargo warehouse at the KLIA Free Trade Zone by the Customs Depart­ment on July 30.

Customs Department assistant director-general (enforcement) Datuk Mohd Pudzi Man said they found the two boxes of elephant tusks at 1.30pm on that day.

“The box was labelled as ‘foodstuff’ and we found out that the import company doesn’t exist. Investigations showed the 23 tusks weighed about 75.74kg, with an estimated value of RM275,000,” he told reporters at the department’s KLIA office yesterday.

He said the package came into the country from Lagos through Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Mohd Pudzi said while Malaysia was its last stop, it did not necessarily mean that the items were for the Malaysian market.

The second find of pangolin scales amounting to about RM3.8mil came at about 8.30pm.

“Six sacks of pangolin scales were found, weighing about 300kg.

“The air way bill listed the items as ‘fishmaw’,” said Mohd Pudzi.

That cargo, he said, originated from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the department believed that both the items were brought in by an international syndicate.

While there was no identifiable link between the two cases so far, or evidence to suggest an inside job, investigations are still ongoing.

“We don’t have proof but I believe that they (the syndicates) exploited our systems and procedures,” said Mohd Pudzi.

Malaysia seizes rare animal parts worth almost $1mil
The Star 2 Aug 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has seized elephant tusks and pangolin scales from Africa worth almost a million dollars, an official said Wednesday, highlighting the country’s role as a hub for smuggling rare animal parts.

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

In the first raid, authorities found 23 ivory tusks, weighing 75.7 kilograms (167 pounds) with an estimated value of 275,000 ringgit ($64,150).

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

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

Separately, officials found six sacks containing 300.9 kilograms (663 pounds) of pangolin scales worth 3.86 million ringgit ($900,500), said Pudzi. The cargo had originated in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

No arrests have yet been made over the seizures.

Elephant tusks are in high demand in parts of Asia, especially China and Vietnam, where the ivory is prized for decorative purposes and in traditional medicine. The global trade in elephant ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989.

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.

Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy in China and their scales are also sometimes used in the production of crystal methamphetamine.

The seizures underline Malaysia’s role as a major transit point in the global wildlife smuggling trade. Last month, a Vietnamese man was arrested at Kuala Lumpur airport and a large stash of elephant ivory found in his luggage was seized.

Anyone found guilty of importing rare animals or their parts into Malaysia can be jailed for up to three years and fined. -AFP

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