HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam has seized more than five metric tonnes of pangolin scales hidden in cashew nut containers shipped from Nigeria, the government said on Friday, in Southeast Asia’s latest large-scale wildlife trafficking case.
Last month, Singaporean authorities seized a total of 25.6 tonnes of pangolin scales across two separate raids, one of which was the biggest of its kind worldwide in five years.
Vietnamese customs and anti-smuggling forces found 5.26 tonnes of pangolin scales hidden in two containers carrying cashew nuts in the southern Vietnamese port of Cai Mep, the government said in a statement posted on its website on Friday.
Trade in pangolin is illegal in Vietnam, where a large number of people still believe consuming products from the critically endangered and defenseless mammal is good for their health.
The scales are often ground up and used as a scientifically unproven supplement to treat liver and bone issues, and for mothers to produce breast milk.
The raid came nine days after authorities in the northern Vietnamese city of Haiphong seized 8.3 tonnes of pangolin scales shipped from Africa, the government said in the statement.
Nguyen Van Thai, director of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife told Reuters last December that most of the pangolin scales seized in Vietnam originate in Africa and are bound for China.
Reporting by Khanh Vu; editing by James Pearson and Richard Pullin