Dec 25, 2019 / 19:01

Vietnam seizes two tons of ivory, pangolin scales

Trade in ivory tusks and pangolin scales is illegal in Vietnam but the smuggling remains rampant due to high demand.

The customs authority in Vietnam’s northern city of Haiphong has seized more than two tons of ivory tusks and pangolin scales shipped from Nigeria, state media reported Tuesday.

 Ivory tusks and pangolin scales hidden in wooden boxes found at Haiphong port. Photo: VnExpress

The volume includes 330 kilograms of ivory and 1.7 tons of pangolin scales hidden inside wooden boxes, according to the Hai Quan newspaper, the official mouthpiece of the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

Trade in ivory and pangolin is illegal in Vietnam.

The manifest listed the goods as high-end lumber. Both elephant tusks and pangolin scales are highly sought after on the multibillion-dollar illegal wildlife market.

Vietnam outlawed the ivory trade in 1992, but the illegal market still persists for decorative and medicinal purposes.

According to Phys.org, the pangolins, which are considered the most trafficked mammal on the planet, are destined for markets in China and Vietnam where their scales are used in traditional medicine and their meat is bought on the black market.

 Ivory tusks seized at Haiphong port in January 2019. Photo: Tienphong

Vietnam has vowed to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade but the situation remains rampant due to weak law enforcement.

In May, Vietnamese police found 5.3 tons of pangolin scales hidden in a shipment from Nigeria at a southern port.

In July, authorities in Singapore seized nearly nine tons of ivory and a huge stash of pangolin scales destined for Vietnam.

In January 2019, Haiphong’s customs seized 500 kg of ivory tusks and more than 1.5 tons of pangolin scales hidden in wooden boxes shipped from Apapa port in Nigeria, according to the Tien Phong newspaper.

During the same month, dozens of live pangolins smuggled from Laos were discovered dehydrated and weak on a bus in the country’s central region.