The Nigerian authorities say they have seized a large quantity of wild animal parts including pangolin scales and claws as well as elephant tusks.
They made the seizure during a raid by custom officers on a location the Lekki area of the country’s commercial hub, Lagos.
Nigeria customs boss, Hameed Ali, told reporters in Lagos on Wednesday – that they saw the items which were concealed in nearly two hundred large bags.
Reports suggests the owners carried the items illegally into the country from Central African Republic and and are on their way to south-east Asia and Nigeria is the transit country.
Mr Hammed Ali say the items weigh more than 18,000 kg and worth more than 22 billion Naira (around $54m).
Three suspects have been arrested in connection with the alleged trafficking.
The custom boss also said Nigeria is working with British, U.S. and German officials plus other international organizations to step up counter-smuggling operations.
He said that “extensive collaboration” lead to the seizure from Lekki, near Nigeria’s main sea ports in Lagos.
Nigeria has become a hub for gangs sending African pangolins to Asia, according to law enforcement officials and wildlife experts.
They blame insecure borders, lax law enforcement, corruption and easy access to large ports.
According to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) report, seizures of pangolin scales, which were poached from Africa has increased tenfold between 2014 and 2018.
In that time, about 185 tonnes of scales have been seized, from that number, roughly 370,000 animals would have been killed, UNODC said.
Why pangolins and elephant tusks are so valuable?
Reportedly, they use elephant tusks and pangolin animal parts to prepare traditional medicines in some south east Asian countries including China and Vietnam.
Elephant tusks have no intrinsic value, but they are used as status symbol to make expensive piano keys. A pound of elephant tusks can cost as much as $2,000, according to reports.
Pangolins on the other hand scientists believe they have become endangered- it is the most trafficked mammals in the world.
Pangolins are an African and Asian mammal which their bodies are covered with overlapping scales, they have a small head with long snout.
They also have a long sticky tongue for catching ants and termites, and long tail.
The pangolin’s scales make up 20 percent of its total body weight.
Pangolins dey use their scales as tools for self-defence.
Mostly, humans hunt Pangolins for meat, they are also used in traditional medicine and as fashion accessories, especially in China and Vietnam.