JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AFP) — Police in South Africa have arrested a Vietnamese man and seized about 60 kilos of lion claws, teeth and other items following a four-month probe into wildlife trafficking, the government said on Saturday.
The man was arrested on Thursday “in connection with the illegal trade in wildlife and illegal possession of a firearm” in northern Limpopo province, the location of a number of wildlife parks, the environment ministry said.
Police also raided a Vietnamese-owned farm near the tourist site of Bela-Bela in Limpopo and two storage units in the capital Pretoria, a statement from the ministry said.
They seized 4.2 kilos of lions’ teeth, 680 grams of lion claws and more than 60 kilos “of processed animal products believed to be lion gelatine” as well as an illegal firearm.
The Vietnamese suspect was arrested for “illegal possession of a threatened species,” and appeared in court on Friday.
The case was postponed until 20 August in order to ensure a translator can be present, the ministry said.
The team on the four-month investigation included members of the Green Scorpions, a special unit responsible for enforcing environment legislation.
Crocodiles and lions’ claws, skin or bones are illegally trafficked from Africa to the Far East, where they are used in traditional medicine or for decoration.