Customs agents in southwest China have seized 2.2 tonnes of pangolin scales and busted an endangered wildlife smuggling gang, state media reported.
Two suspects were detained in the city of Yulin in Guangxi by customs officers, who also seized two kilograms of pangolin paws, the People’s Daily said Tuesday.
The pangolin scales had been smuggled across the border from Vietnam, reported official state news agency Xinhua.
Pangolins are among the world’s most endangered species and their scales are prized in traditional Chinese medicine as a remedy for various ailments.
China has raised the animal’s protected status to the country’s highest level due to dwindling numbers, meaning harsher sentences for poachers and smugglers.
In January, a Chinese court imprisoned 17 people for smuggling 23 tonnes of pangolin scales worth $28 million into China from Nigeria.
China banned imports of pangolin products in 2018, and outlawed poaching the animals in 2007.
Studies have suggested that the pangolin may have been the intermediate host that transmitted the coronavirus to humans when it first emerged at a wet market in the Chinese city of Wuhan last year.
China will host the UN-convened COP-15 Biodiversity Conference in the southwestern city of Kunming in October.