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BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese customs have seized 11.9 tonnes of scales of pangolins, the world's most poached animal and under threat of extinction, in their biggest seizure of its kind, state media said on Wednesday.

The scales, used in traditional remedies for ailments such as asthma, rheumatism and arthritis, are estimated to have come from at least 20,000 pangolins in Africa. They were seized on a ship in Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong, in July.

Arrest warrants have been issued against two individuals, state news agency Xinhua said. The state-backed China Daily said this was the biggest volume seized by Chinese customs in any single case.

Found only in Asia and Africa, the largely solitary and nocturnal pangolins are in high demand in countries like China and Vietnam for both their meat and their scales.

A ban on global trade of pangolins took effect in January.

(Reporting by Se Young Lee and Lusha Zhang; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Reuters