Custom authorities in Kinshasa, Congo were notified this weekend about a case of pangolin scales trafficking, RFI has reported, quoted by Romanian news agency Agerpres. The scales were worth about EUR 1.5 million and were due to reach Romania via Istanbul.

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The cargo of 1,200 kilos of scales was discovered by custom officials on the Istanbul airport. The scales left from the Congolese city of Goma, were declared "furniture" and and were put on a plane in Kinshasa.

According to RFI, the Congolese services involved in the operations had employees who were arrested several weeks ago in another case of pangolin scales and ivory trafficking bound for Japan and Vietnam.

Pangolins are hunted for their meat and scales in Asia and Africa, with a high demand in China and Vietnam, according to animal rights organisations. The scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Pangolin is a protected species starting 2016.