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Malaysia makes massive seizure of pangolin scales, COVID19 suspected source

PortandTerminal.com, April 6, 2020

The record-setting haul of Pangolin scales was found Tuesday at a port outside the capital Kuala Lumpur, hidden inside a container along with a shipment of cashew nuts

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA – Malaysian Customs authorities seized about six tonnes of pangolin scales and smashed a smuggling syndicate, officials said Wednesday, as the country clamps down on rampant wildlife trafficking. It is the largest seizure of the endangered animal’s scales they have ever made.

Six tonnes of the animal’s scales were hidden in a shipping container at the port in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The pangolin, the world’s most heavily trafficked mammal, is believed to have possibly been a source in the leap of the coronavirus from animal to humans at a wet market in China’s Wuhan city last year.

Its body parts fetch a high price on the black market as they are commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, although scientists say they have no therapeutic value.

Woman with covered head holding dried Pangolin scales
Pangolin scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine

The haul was found Tuesday at a port outside the capital Kuala Lumpur, hidden inside a container along with a shipment of cashew nuts, said customs department chief Paddy Abdul Halim.

Officials said they had detained two people for questioning, and the operation had put a smuggling syndicate out of operation.

It was not immediately clear if the scales originally came from Malaysia or elsewhere.

Malaysia has emerged as a transit point for the illegal trade of pangolin scales between Africa and Asia in recent years, after large seizures in 2017. China and Vietnam are the two major illegal markets for the mammal’s scales.

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