The police in South Africa arrested a Vietnamese man after a four-month investigation into the wildlife trade and confiscated around 60 kilos of lion claws, teeth and other items, the government said on Saturday.
The man was arrested on Thursday “in connection with the illegal wildlife trafficking and possession of a firearm” in northern Limpopo province, the site of a number of wildlife parks, the environment ministry said.
Police also searched a Vietnamese farm near the tourist attraction Bela-Bela in Limpopo and two storage units in the capital, Pretoria, the ministry said in a statement.
They confiscated 4.2 kilograms of dandelions, 680 grams of lion’s claws and more than 60 kilograms of “processed animal products, which are believed to be lion gelatine” as well as an illegal firearm.
The Vietnamese suspect was arrested for “illegal possession of an endangered species” and brought to trial on Friday.
The case has been postponed to August 20 to ensure a translator can be present, the ministry said.
The team involved in the four-month investigation consisted of members of the Green Scorpions, a special unit responsible for enforcing environmental law.
Crocodiles and lion claws, skin or bones are illegally smuggled from Africa to the Far East, where they are used in traditional medicine or for decoration.