Hong Kong seizes $8 million in ivory, pangolin scales

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong customs officers have intercepted an illegal shipment of pangolin scales and ivory tusks worth more than $8 million.

Acting on a tip from mainland Chinese authorities, local officials found the haul in a refrigerated container labeled as frozen meat from Nigeria.

Officials said Friday the smugglers kept the temperature low to better disguise the smell of the illicit cargo. Police arrested two people in connection with the seizure.

The scales of the anteater-like pangolin have for centuries been highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine, while ivory tusks are a cherished decorative craft material in Asia. Trading in both is banned under most circumstances.

Under Hong Kong law, trading in endangered species can be punished by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $1.3 million.