Around 249 kilograms of pangolin scales were confiscated by customs officials at the Pudong International Airport—making this the largest ever seizure of animal products in the city.
Pangolins, for those unfamiliar, are scale-covered mammals sometimes referred to as a scaly anteaters. They’re rare, adorable and hunted in China for their tough armor, which is believed by Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners to help cure cancer and asthma, among other ailments. The creatures can fetch up to 5,000 yuan per kilogram.
This load of scales was transported in nine black suitcases, which were seized on March 27 after officials spotted the animal products in an X-ray scanning machine, Shanghai Customs said yesterday.
A man and woman were detained by officials while picking up the suitcases from the luggage claim area. They said they’d been paid by a man surnamed Feng, who was helping a partner in Nigeria to deliver the scales to China.
Just 10 days later, customs officials stopped another person attempting to smuggle 25 kilograms of pangolin scales for someone who was working for the same man in Nigeria, surnamed Qiu.