Ivory Coast seized three tons of pangolin scales and arrested eight people for trading the valuable armour of the world’s most trafficked animal, a police chief said.
The small, armadillo-like mammal lives in forests in Ivory Coast and other West African countries. Global trade in pangolin scales is banned under a UN convention, but they are prized in some Asian countries for use in traditional medicines.
Ivory Coast authorities apprehended the traffickers preparing to deliver pangolin scales to a Chinese client, the head of the anti-trafficking unit, Thimotee Gnahore, told reporters.
The haul was worth approximately 45 million CFA francs ($80,000) and was the largest ever seized in the West African country, he said.
Anti-trafficking network EAGLE estimates more than 4,000 pangolins were killed to produce that amount of scales.
“Investigations continue because behind this operation are suppliers on the ground who massacre these animals and there are the people for who these scales are important,” said Gnahore.
Pangolins are hunted for their meat as well as for the plate-like scales that cover their bodies.