(dpa) - Customs police in Vietnam have discovered at least 17 more tons of slaughtered pangolins being smuggled from Indonesia to China, just a week after seizing a then-record seven tons of the endangered animals, an official said Thursday.
The pangolin carcasses were found Thursday in two containers at the port of Haiphong, 100 kilometers east of Hanoi, according to city customs official Vu Hoang Duong.
"The pangolins in one of the containers weigh 8.5 tons, and we are still weighing those in the other container," Duong said. "The total will be at least 17 tons."
Duong said the containers, like the one seized last week, were registered as fresh fish and were on their way from Indonesia to China, transiting through Haiphong.
"It's an amazing number of pangolins being smuggled, including the seven tons we detected last week," Duong said. "I think many Chinese people love eating wild animals, including pangolins."
Duong said officials had not yet decided what to do with the pangolin carcasses.
The scaly anteaters are a protected species in Vietnam, and it is illegal to transport or trade them.
Animal smuggling is widespread in Vietnam, where eating wild game, such as snakes, bears and even tigers, is an elite hobby.
In January, customs officials at Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport seized 1.5 tons of live snakes in the cargo hold of a commercial flight from Bangkok. The snakes, registered as fish, were also destined for China.
Last year, Vietnam seized more than 66 tons of smuggled wild animals, according to the Ministry of Agriculture's Forest Protection Department.