More than five tonnes of pangolin scales have been seized by the Vietnam police, according to a statement by the government on Friday.

The police found the 5.3 pangolin scales stashed in a cashew shipment from Nigeria at a port in southern Ba Riang Vung Tau province, according to Hai Quan, the official mouthpiece of Vietnam Customs.

“The scales were stuffed into 151 sacks inside a container… (and) bags of raw cashew nuts were used as a disguise in order to avoid detection from authorities,” the online news website said on Friday.

Vietnam has been under fire for the continuous illegal wildlife trade in the country. Animal products such as elephant ivory, tiger bones and rhino horns are usually consumed domestically and smuggled abroad.

Earlier this month, the seizure of 8.3 tonnes of pangolin scales also took place in the northern Haiphong port, which all came from “an African country.”

Pangolins are considered as the most poached animal in the world. They used to roam freely in Vietnam’s national parks, but continuous hunting and poaching for their scales in recent decades led to their decreasing population.

Their scales, which are made up of the same material as fingernails, are commonly used in traditional medicine, while their meat is consumed on special occasions and are known to be sold in Asian black markets. Pangolin scales and meat are most popular in China and Vietnam.

Just last month, two major shipments of pangolin scales destined for Vietnam have also been seized in Singapore.

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