- The 337 kilograms of pangolin scales had been mailed from Sarawak and Sabah in 13 different boxes, and were being exported to Hong Kong.
- With this latest seizure, Malaysian customs officials have confiscated a total of 15,000 kilograms of scales in just seven months, according to TRAFFIC.
- The origin of the scales is still unknown, officials say.
Malaysian customs officials have seized 337 kilograms (about 743 pounds) of pangolin scales from Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s (KLIA’s) mail and courier centre.
The scales had been mailed from the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah, located on the island of Borneo, in 13 different boxes, and were being exported to Hong Kong, KLIA Customs Director Abdul Wahabi Abdullah said at a press conference. The consignments, which were discovered on November 16 and 17, are estimated to be worth more than four million Malaysian Ringgit (nearly $1 million), according to the local media.
“We have identified the individuals and investigations are underway to detect those involved in Sabah and Sarawak,”Abdul Wahabi told the press.
With this latest seizure, Malaysian customs officials have confiscated a total of 15,000 kilograms of pangolin scales in just the past seven months, according to TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network. Authorities confiscated a record 8,000 kilograms of pangolin scales in July, and over 5,000 kilograms of scales in August. In early November, officials also seized 140 live pangolins being smuggled to China.
The current case offers clues to the previous pangolin scale seizures, and authorities are expected to make arrests soon, Abdul Wahabi said. However, the origin of the scales is still unknown and the consignments will be sent to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks for further determination, he added.
This is also the first time that pangolin scales have been confiscated from KLIA’s mail and courier centre, TRAFFIC said.
“This case has unveiled just how complex and diversified a smuggling web can be,” Kanitha Krishnasamy, Acting Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia, said in a statement. “Logistics and courier services must realise that they are not exempt from being exploited by traffickers and must step up and improve monitoring of what they are transporting,”
Last year, all eight species of pangolin were listed under the Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which bans their global commercial trade. But the market value of pangolin remains high in China and Vietnam, and poachers continue to hunt them in large numbers.