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Malaysia seizes ivory, pangolin scales from Africa

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysian authorities said Wednesday that they seized 23 pieces of elephant tusks and 664 pounds of pangolin scales believed to have been smuggled from Africa in a haul worth nearly $1 million.

Customs senior official Mohamad Pudzi Man said officials raided the Kuala Lumpur airport cargo warehouse Sunday and found the ivory in two boxes marked as ‘‘food stuff.’’ He said the ivory, worth $64,139, was flown in on an Etihad Airways flight from Lagos and transited in Abu Dhabi before arriving in Kuala Lumpur.

The official said that later Sunday, officials confiscated six sacks of pangolin scales worth $900,291 shortly after they arrived on an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Congo. The sacks were marked as ‘‘fish maw’’ and the airway bills used in both cases had fake final destinations, he said.

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The seizure marked the latest in a series of contraband wildlife products that have been confiscated by Malaysian authorities in recent months, including more than a ton of pangolin scales in just two months.

The wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC has expressed concern that Malaysia appears to be a transit point for the illegal trade of pangolins and ivory, with traffickers routinely moving their contraband through Malaysia.

Eight species of pangolin, or scaly anteaters, live in Asia and Africa and are targeted for their scales and meat.

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