After discovering a massive haul of smuggled pangolin scales and elephant tusks worth some 42 million euros (35 million dollars), Nigerian authorities are now searching for the leader of the smuggling operation.
Three suspected accomplices were arrested on Wednesday after the seizure of more than 17 tonnes of pangolin scales and 870 kilos of ivory in Nigeria’s largest city Lagos, said Hameed Ali, the director of the customs administration. It is as yet unclear where the items were headed.
Nigeria is known to be a key hub for the illegal trade in wild animal parts. From the West African country, the contraband fauna is normally exported to Asia, where pangolin meat is considered a delicacy. More than 1 million of the endangered nocturnal animals have been killed by poachers in the past decade alone, according to the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
The ivory trade is also booming, further threatening Africa’s dwindling elephant population.