The pangolins were found in two cars during a dawn raid on a house in the village of Padang Buloh in the state of Kedah, 300km north of Kuala Lumpur, state wildlife director Mohamad Hafid Rohani said.

A 40-year-old suspect was arrested during the raid, Mohamad Rafid said.

“The pangolins were destined for Thailand, where their meat is a delicacy and their scales are used as traditional medicine,” he said.

The freed pangolins were being kept at a wildlife centre in the state and would be released back into the wild.

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Pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, are a protected species in Malaysia and people found guilty of trafficking protected animals can be jailed for up to three years or fined of up to $23 000.

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