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Ugandan authorities seize cargo of ivory and pangolin scales

Two Vietnamese nationals have been taken into custody.

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Archive picture of an African elephant (WWF/PA)

Archive picture of an African elephant (WWF/PA)

Archive picture of an African elephant (WWF/PA)

Ugandan authorities have said they have seized 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales being transported through the East African country from neighbouring South Sudan.

The Uganda Revenue Authority said two Vietnamese nationals are in custody over the contraband, which had been concealed inside pieces of timber carried by three freight containers.

The seizure of illegal wildlife products is one of the largest in Uganda in recent years.

The authority says the ivory and pangolin scales were likely collected in neighbouring Congo, where “the racket packed the ivory and scales into well-joined logs of woods”.

Africa’s elephants are threatened by demand for ivory products in China and other Asian countries.

Africa’s pangolin species are under increasing pressure from poachers as their scales are used in traditional medicine.

The seizure proves Uganda “still is a major transit point for illegal wildlife”, Kristof Titeca, a Belgian researcher who recently investigated the role of individual traders in ivory trafficking, said in a Twitter post.

Africa’s pangolin species are under increasing pressure from poachers as their scales are used in traditional medicine in some Asian countries.

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File picture of a pangolin (WWF/PA)

File picture of a pangolin (WWF/PA)

Press Association Images

File picture of a pangolin (WWF/PA)

Africa’s elephants are threatened by demand for ivory products in China and other Asian countries.

Africa had 1.3 million elephants in the 1970s but has fewer than 500,000 today.

Uganda’s elephant population has been growing in recent years to over 5,000, but the animals still face sporadic poaching, sometimes with the help of corrupt wildlife officials.

Experts warn that elephant populations could plummet if the ivory trade is not stopped.

PA Media