US News Nigeria: seizure of 8.8 tonnes of pangolin and ivory scales
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Nigeria seized eight tonnes of pangolin scales and around 60 bags filled with ivory or bones of protected animals bound for Vietnam, a customs official said on Wednesday.
The cargo, seized in the port of Lagos on January 21, was concealed in a container of furniture, told AFP Mohammed Abba-Kura, the controller general of customs.
"The container was opened and we saw logs of wood hiding the cargo," he said.
"After a full search, 162 bags of pangolin scales were discovered, as well as 57 bags filled with elephant tusks, lion bones and others ... for a total weight of 8.8 tons" and an estimated value of more than 2 million euros, said Mr. Abba-Kura.
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Nigeria, a country of 200 million people plagued by corruption, has become a hub of animal trafficking for West and Central Africa.
Although the ivory trade has been officially banned in Vietnam since 1992, the country is a prime market for elephant tusks, in addition to being a transit point to neighboring China.
The illegal ivory trade is the third most profitable form of trafficking after drugs and weapons. Ivory can reach up to 7,000 euros per kilo.
Pangolin scales are sought after in Southeast Asia for their purported medicinal properties against acne, cancer or impotence.
Pangolins, suspected of having been the intermediate host which would have allowed the transmission of the virus from the bat to the human species, were withdrawn this year from the official Chinese pharmacopoeia.
In early January, China condemned 17 traffickers who had introduced astronomical quantities of pangolin scales (23 tons, valued at more than 22 million euros) from Nigeria between 2018 and 2019.
One million pangolins were hunted in the forests of Africa and Asia over the past decade, as the appetite for the quadruped soared in China or Vietnam.
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