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Staggering Uganda wildlife bust worth some $3.5 million

Published
Customs officers display some of the seized elephant tusks to the media, in Kampala, Uganda Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Ugandan authorities have seized 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales being smuggled from neighboring South Sudan, in one of the largest seizures of wildlife contraband in the East African country, according to the Uganda Revenue Authority. (AP Photo/Ronald Kabuubi)

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Officials say a staggeringly large bust of smuggled ivory and pangolin scales in Uganda is worth $3.5 million.

Uganda Revenue Authority spokesman Vincent Seruma told reporters on Friday that the intercepted shipment contained more than three tons of elephant tusks and nearly a half-ton of pangolin scales.

He calls this one of Uganda's biggest such busts of illegal wildlife products.

Two Vietnamese nationals are being questioned in custody.

While the three freight containers came from neighboring South Sudan, Ugandan officials believe the ivory and pangolin scales came from neighboring Congo and are speaking with authorities there.

The contraband had been concealed inside pieces of timber and was detected with the help of a scanner.

Both Africa's elephants and pangolins are under threat from poachers and demand in some Asian countries.

Customs officers display some of the seized elephant tusks to media, in Kampala, Uganda Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Ugandan authorities have seized 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales being smuggled from neighboring South Sudan, in one of the largest seizures of wildlife contraband in the East African country, according to the Uganda Revenue Authority. (AP Photo/Ronald Kabuubi)
A Customs officer displays some of the seized pangolin scales to the media, in Kampala, Uganda Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Ugandan authorities have seized 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales being smuggled from neighboring South Sudan, in one of the largest seizures of wildlife contraband in the East African country, according to the Uganda Revenue Authority. (AP Photo/Ronald Kabuubi)
Customs officers display some of the seized elephant tusks to the media, in Kampala, Uganda Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Ugandan authorities have seized 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales being smuggled from neighboring South Sudan, in one of the largest seizures of wildlife contraband in the East African country, according to the Uganda Revenue Authority. (AP Photo/Ronald Kabuubi)
A Customs officer displays some of the seized pangolin scales to the media, in Kampala, Uganda Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Ugandan authorities have seized 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales being smuggled from neighboring South Sudan, in one of the largest seizures of wildlife contraband in the East African country, according to the Uganda Revenue Authority. (AP Photo/Ronald Kabuubi)
A Customs officer displays some of the seized pangolin scales to the media, in Kampala, Uganda Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Ugandan authorities have seized 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales being smuggled from neighboring South Sudan, in one of the largest seizures of wildlife contraband in the East African country, according to the Uganda Revenue Authority. (AP Photo/Ronald Kabuubi)
Customs officers display some of the seized elephant tusks to the media, in Kampala, Uganda Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Ugandan authorities have seized 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales being smuggled from neighboring South Sudan, in one of the largest seizures of wildlife contraband in the East African country, according to the Uganda Revenue Authority. (AP Photo/Ronald Kabuubi)
Customs officers display some of the seized elephant tusks to the media, in Kampala, Uganda Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Ugandan authorities have seized 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales being smuggled from neighboring South Sudan, in one of the largest seizures of wildlife contraband in the East African country, according to the Uganda Revenue Authority. (AP Photo/Ronald Kabuubi)
Customs officers display some of the seized elephant tusks to media, in Kampala, Uganda Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Ugandan authorities have seized 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales being smuggled from neighboring South Sudan, in one of the largest seizures of wildlife contraband in the East African country, according to the Uganda Revenue Authority. (AP Photo/Ronald Kabuubi)
Customs officers display some of the seized elephant tusks to media, in Kampala, Uganda Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Ugandan authorities have seized 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales being smuggled from neighboring South Sudan, in one of the largest seizures of wildlife contraband in the East African country, according to the Uganda Revenue Authority. (AP Photo/Ronald Kabuubi)
Customs officers display some of the seized elephant tusks to the media, in Kampala, Uganda Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Ugandan authorities have seized 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales being smuggled from neighboring South Sudan, in one of the largest seizures of wildlife contraband in the East African country, according to the Uganda Revenue Authority. (AP Photo/Ronald Kabuubi)
Customs officers display some of the seized elephant tusks to the media, in Kampala, Uganda Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Ugandan authorities have seized 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales being smuggled from neighboring South Sudan, in one of the largest seizures of wildlife contraband in the East African country, according to the Uganda Revenue Authority. (AP Photo/Ronald Kabuubi)