Vietnam seizes huge shipment of ivory, pangolin scales from Taiwan

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Vietnamese authorities inspect 860 kilos of ivory and two tons of pangolin scales at Hoanh Mo Border Gate in Quang Ninh Province on November 23, 2015. Photo provided by customs Vietnamese authorities inspect 860 kilos of ivory and two tons of pangolin scales at Hoanh Mo Border Gate in Quang Ninh Province on November 23, 2015. Photo provided by customs

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Authorities in Vietnam have seized a large batch of elephant tusks and pangolin scales smuggled into the country from Taiwan.
On Sunday afternoon, customs officers of the northern province of Quang Ninh discovered a shipment of illegal goods, including two tons of pangolin scales and 860 kilos of elephant tusks labeled as “frozen fish”.
According to officers at Hoanh Mo Border Gate, the tusks and scales, hidden inside 1,300 boxes of frozen fish heads, came from Taiwan and were about to be shipped to a third destination by a local company.
In a separate case on Monday, police in Nghe An Province caught two Lao men while they were transporting ten ivory statues on a northbound bus to Hanoi. 
Both the bus driver and his assistant could not show any paper to prove the origin of the ten statues, which weighed 9 kilos in total, police said.
They only said that they were hired to bring the illegal products to Hanoi from Vientiane.
Police say they are looking into the two cases.
Vietnam has banned ivory trade since the 1990s, and yet it has been fueled by the rising affluence in recent years and the demand for using ivories for decoration.
The country is one of the biggest markets for wildlife as many people believe rare animal parts can cure diseases, despite a lack of scientific evidence.
Wildlife protection organizations in the country have been asking celebrities and doctors to campaign against the belief.
Pangolin scales are used to make footwear and are also used as indigenous ornaments and in traditional medicine.
Vietnam bans the trade of pangolins and any products made from the animal.

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