Malaysian authorities seized trafficked ivory tusks and pangolin scales worth nearly US$1 million last week, airport customs officials were quoted as saying in a Reuters report, making it the latest in a series of seizures in Asia of products made from endangered animals.
The report said Malaysia has been singled out by conservationists as a major transit point for the illegal trafficking of endangered species, as well as products made from them.
Last month, Hong Kong seized more than 7,200 kg of ivory tusks shipped from Malaysia, the largest single seizure in 30 years.
Officials last week found 23 ivory tusks, weighing about 76 kg, in a cargo facility at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), the Customs Department's assistant director-general of enforcement, Mohammad Pudzi Man said.
The tusks, valued at 275,000 ringgit (US$64,100), had been shipped on an Etihad Airways flight from Lagos, Nigeria, via Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Illegal trade is in the hands of trafficking syndicates
Later, six sacks containing 300.9 kg of pangolin scales worth 3.9 million ringgit (US$910,000), were found in the same cargo warehouse. The scales were shipped from the Democratic Republic of Congo on Ethiopian Airlines.
Both shipments were sent to fake addresses and their recipients could not be traced, Customs officials said.
The Reuters report noted that multiple wildlife seizures have been made at KLIA this year, and investigators said airport personnel could be involved in the illegal trade.
"We don't have proof but I believe that they (trafficking syndicates) exploit our systems and procedures in these smuggling activities," Mohammad Pudzi said, adding that steps were being taken to strengthen screening and enforcement.
China, the world's largest importer and end-user of ivory tusks, plans to close all its ivory carving factories and retail stores by the end of the year.
Nol van Fenema