Authorities in Singapore say they’ve seized yet another illegal shipment of pangolin scales, this time adding another 12.7 tons to last week’s interdiction of 12.9 tons of scales – or about 21,000 endangered pangolin.
The latest seizure came after inspection of a 40-foot container that was en route to Vietnam from Nigeria, the same route as the April 3 shipment but this time labeled “cassia seeds” instead of beef, said a joint statement from the Singapore Customs and Immigration Authority and its National Parks Board.
Instead of seeds, inspectors found 474 bags packed full of pangolin scales worth USD$38.1 million. The previously seized shipment was worth $38.7 million in pangolin scales but also included elephant ivory worth $88,500.
Officials did not name arrests in the case, but said they are working with international agencies to target shipments suspected of links to the illegal wildlife trade.
“Singapore is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) and is committed to international effort to curb illegal wildlife trade,” the agencies said. “Elephants and pangolins are protected species under CITES. International trade in elephant ivory and pangolin is prohibited.”
Singapore’s Endangered Species (Import & Export) Act allows for fines up to $500,000 and/or two years in prison for trafficking in illegal wildlife species.
A similar case of pangolin scales shipped as frozen beef to Vietnam was discovered in Hong Kong in February.
Pangolins are the most-trafficked mammals in the world, according to the World Wildlife Fund, and they’re in high demand in Asian countries including China and Vietnam. That’s because their meat is considered a delicacy, and the unique scales are often used in traditional medicine.