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Malaysian customs officials said on Monday they seized a stash of rare animal parts worth US$18 million thought to have come from Africa, including elephant tusks, rhino horns and pangolin scales.
Malaysia is one of several Southeast Asian countries identified by conservationists as a major transit point for illegally trafficked endangered wildlife that is en route to other Asian countries, mostly China.
There were also 29 kilograms of rhino horns, 100 kilos of pangolin scales, and 300 kilos of animal skulls and other bones, he told a press conference.
The seizure had an estimated value of 80 million ringgit ($18 million), he said, adding it was believed to have come from Africa, without giving more details. Zazuli said Malaysia was not the shipment’s final destination, but did not say where it was heading.
Kanitha Krishnasamy – Southeast Asia director at wildlife trade monitoring group Traffic – hailed the “significant seizure”. “This medley of threatened species in a single seizure is concerning, and it certainly verifies the suspicion that criminals continue to use Malaysian ports to move contraband wildlife,” she said.
Investigations are ongoing on the importer and shipping agent, the department said without providing further details.