Malaysian authorities have confiscated six tonnes of illegal animal parts, worth nearly $18 million, in one of the country’s biggest ever wildlife trade seizures.
The haul of trafficked parts includes elephant tusks, rhino horns, tiger bones, and pangolin scales. General Zazuli Johan, Malaysia’s customs director, says the parts came from Africa.
It’s likely they were on their way to China, the world’s biggest market for illegal wildlife products. Malaysia, along with other Southeast Asian countries, is one of the illicit industry’s key transit points.
Investigations into the seizure are still ongoing, and as of right now, there have been no arrests.
‘Seizures are certainly commendable’
Seizures like this are significant. But more needs to be done to end the illegal wildlife trade, according to Kanitha Krishnasamy, the director of the wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic.
She told New Straits Times in 2020: “Not a day goes by without a wildlife seizure taking place in Southeast Asia, and all too often in volumes that are jaw-dropping.”
“Seizures are certainly commendable, but what must be eradicated are the many basic enabling factors that drive and fuel illegal trade.”
The newly seized shipment contained 100 kilograms of pangolin scales, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The animals are the most illegally trafficked mammals in the world.
According to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, in the last decade, roughly one million have been poached from the wild, and some have been hunted almost to extinction.
The smuggled animal parts also led to the biggest-ever seizure of elephant tusks in Malaysia, with 6,000 kilograms confiscated.
Every year, roughly 20,000 African elephants are poached for their tusks, threatening the survival of their species.
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