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Malaysia has seized rhinoceros horns worth nearly US$12 million bound for Vietnam, the Southeast Asian nation's largest haul of such contraband, officials said on Monday. (Bernama photo)

KUALA LUMPUR: Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) officers seized 50 rhinoceros horns and nine carcasses of wild animals worth RM48.5 million last Monday at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

The seizure, the biggest in the country involving rhinoceros horns, was made following a call from Royal Customs Department that a stench was emanating from several packages at its Aviation Post Export Division at the Cargo Terminal at KLIA.

The rhinoceros horns are believed to have come from the African Rhino, while the animal carcases were that of carnivorous animals such as bears, tigers, panthers and clouded leopards.

The horns and carcasses were believed to have been destined for Vietnam.

Perhilitan director-general Datuk Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said the horns were found in six boxes while the animal carcasses, minus the pelts, were found in four boxes.

“The horns weighed about 116kg in total and are estimated to be worth RM48 million, but are sold in the black market for about RM100,000 per kilogramme. The nine carcasses weighed in total about 200kg with an estimated black market worth of about RM500,000,” he told reporters at Perhilitan headquarters.

Present was Perhilitan enforcement director Salman Saaban.

Kadir said KLIA was used by the international wildlife smuggling syndicate involved as a transit point, with the packages all meant to be sent to an address in Hanoi.

He said Perhilitan believed the animal parts, including the horns, were meant to be processed into powder to be used as alternative medicine in Vietnam.

“At this point in time, we are still investigating to figure out who had sent the packages, when they arrived at KLIA and who was to receive them (in Vietnam). In fact, we believe that the address of the recipient in Hanoi is fake, and that syndicate members will pick up the packages as soon as they arrive in Vietnam.”

Kadir said the department would send samples taken from the animals to Geneva for scientists to determine country of origin.

He said a report would also be sent to Interpol, while the carcasses and horns would be sent back to their countries of origin as soon as these were determined.

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