Malaysian authorities seize container of elephant tusks, pangolin scales
Singapore, Jul 18 (EFE).- Malaysian authorities said Monday they had seized a container of elephant tusks, pangolin scales and other animal skulls and bones with an estimated worth of $18 million.
The animal parts were hidden behind sawn timber on a ship coming from Africa that was inspected in Malaysia on July 10, the Customs Department said in a statement.
The container included 6,000kg (around 13,200 pounds) of elephant tusks, 100kg of pangolin scales, 25kg of rhino horns and another 300kg of skeletons, bones and horns of other animals.
Malaysian authorities have opened an investigation into the importer and shipping agent, the department said, without providing further details on the shipment’s final destination.
In China, as well as other countries in Southeast Asia, rhino horn is believed to have medicinal and aphrodisiac properties, although such claims are scientifically baseless.
The belief, coupled with increased purchasing power in the region, is further endangering the already vulnerable populations of rhinos, African elephants and pangolins, among other species that are poached for their body parts.
There are fewer than 20,000 African white rhinos and 6,000 black rhinos in the wild, according to the NGO Save the Rhino.
Asian rhino populations are even more endangered, with no more than 80 Sumatran rhinos and 75 Javan rhinos left in the wild, the NGO estimates. EFE