A large quantity of endangered pangolin scales has been seized by Hong Kong customs.

The shipment of the pangolin scales, seized along with more than 1,000 ivory tusks, was said to have originated from Nigeria and was bound for Vietnam.

It was the largest single seizure of pangolin parts in Hong Kong.

The value of the seized goods - which equates to around 500 elephants and up to 13,000 pangolins - was over HK$62 million, ($7.90 million) officials said on Friday.

Reuters reports that in a separate incident, customs officials in the northern Vietnamese port of Hai Phong discovered another 1.4 tonnes of pangolin scales in a shipping container sent from Nigeria, citing the state-run Vietnam News Agency on Friday.

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Last October, Vietnam intercepted more than more than eight metric tonnes of pangolin scales and ivory, also from Nigeria, in one of the Southeast Asian country’s largest wildlife trafficking cases for years.

The Chinese territory of Hong Kong, located on the country’s southern coast, is a global blackspot for wildlife trafficking. The city is a key transit point, supplying an array of wildlife products including timber, shark’s fin and rhino horn across Asia and particularly mainland China.

Yueng Ka-yan, head of command at Hong Kong’s Customs and Excise Department, said the smugglers used a new method to hide the endangered species by a process of ‘solidification’ where they used ice bags and frozen meat to obscure the species.

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