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Officials Nab 9 Tons of Pangolin Scales

Hong Kong officials have already arrested 2 people
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2019 3:05 PM CST
A Customs officer displays seized pangolin scales in Kampala, Uganda on Friday.   (AP Photo/Ronald Kabuubi)
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(Newser) – A shipping container seized in Hong Kong this month was full of animal parts, but they definitely didn't come from a cow as declared. Authorities there have arrested a man and a woman from a trading company after discovering more than 1,000 elephant tusks and 9 tons of pangolin scales in the container shipped from Nigeria, reports the BBC. Customs officials said it was "a record quantity for a seizure of pangolin scales." Pangolins are thought to be the most trafficked mammal on Earth as well as the scaliest.

The scales of the endangered anteater are believed in some parts of Asia to have medicinal value. They're rumoured to reduce swelling and increase blood circulation, per the South China Morning Post, though the BBC says they're made of keratin—the same material as human fingernails—and their health benefits are unproven. Meanwhile, Uganda has stopped what it calls the country's biggest-ever illegal shipment of pangolin scales and ivory, per Channel News Asia. With a possible market value of $8 million, the haul came from the Democratic Republic of Congo and was headed for Uganda's capital city of Kampala. (Read more Hong Kong stories.)

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