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Ivory Coast burns 3 tonnes of pangolin scales

The scales were seized in raids in 2017 and 2018, following which some 20 people were arrested.

A picture taken on 3 March 2020 shows a load of pangolin scales seized from poachers in 2017 and 2018 being burnt in the suburb of Abidjan. Picture: AFP

ABIDJAN - Ivory Coast officials on Tuesday burnt three tonnes of scales of the pangolin, the most trafficked mammal on Earth.

The scales were seized in raids in 2017 and 2018, following which some 20 people were arrested.

Beijing announced a total ban on the sale and consumption of the pangolin after the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The scaly mammal - listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) as threatened with extinction - is a traditional delicacy across China and much of southeast Asia.

"It was an international trafficking network that was dismantled and 3.6 tonnes of scales were burnt," Minister of Forests Alain Richard Donwahi said after setting three lots on fire in the economic capital Abidjan.

He said the scales were worth "millions", adding: "We are fighting poaching and also trafficking in protected species."

"Pangolin scales are highly prized in traditional Chinese medicine ... and in Vietnam.

"In Asia, the price can go up to $ 1,000 per kg," he said.

The international sale of pangolins was outlawed in 2016 under the CITES convention against species exploitation.

The illegal trafficking of wild species is estimated by the WWF to be worth around $15 billion annually, particularly among booming Asian markets.

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