A total of 3.5 tons of elephant ivory and 4 tons of pangolin scales were discovered in steel barrels this Wednesday when Vietnamese customs officers were inspecting a shipping container that had arrived at the northern Hai Phong port, according to a report by the Vietnam News Agency.
The ivory and scales in the steel barrels were mixed with other barrels that contained tar in an effort to conceal or hide the trafficked animal parts from customs authorities in Vietnam.
The cargo was meant to be shipped to a logistic company located in Hai Phong city, but the Vietnamese news website wrote that no one tried to claim ownership of the freight shipment. There were no details available about where it originated from.
Trading and poaching pangolins and ivory tusks carry prison sentences of up to five years in Vietnam.
The Southern Asian country of Vietnam is commonly used as a destination for trafficking wildlife parts and is a transit point for such materials as ivory, along with various other trafficked items to be smuggled into China.
It is known that the pangolin is the most widely trafficked mammal on Earth. Pangolin scales are made out of keratin, which is ground up to be used for traditional medicine practices, especially in China.
A lot may have been seized and taken off the black markets, but there is also the devastating loss of wildlife from the amount that was confiscated.
Featured Image: Left: Elephant with Big Tusks (Public Domain Image) Right: Pangolin / Ant Eater (CC/Flickr/David Brossard)