Nigeria seizes record amount of pangolin scales and elephant tusks

A rescued pangolin bought off a wildlife seller rests at the Green Finger Garden in Lagos, Nigeria, photo: Reuters/Seun Sanni
A rescued pangolin bought off a wildlife seller rests at the Green Finger Garden in Lagos, Nigeria, photo: Reuters/Seun Sanni

A record amount of pangolin scales, claws, and elephant tusks have been seized in Nigeria, the head of customs said on Wednesday.

In total, 17,137 kg of pangolin scales, 60 kg in pangolin claws and 44 kg of elephant tusks were discovered, Colonel Hameed Ibrahim Ali, head of customs, said in a statement.

Ali said authorities had arrested three foreigners and were pursuing a fourth, whom he described as the most important person of the operation.

Nigeria has become a hub for international gangs who send African pangolins to Asia, according to law enforcement officials and wildlife experts.

They blame insecure borders, weak law enforcement, corruption and access to large ports.

The critically endangered pangolins have become one of the most trafficked mammals on earth due to demand for their scales in traditional Chinese medicine.

Seizures of pangolin scales, mainly sourced in Africa, increased tenfold between 2014 and 2018, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC).

In that time, around 370,000 pangolins were killed, UNODC said.

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