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Malaysia rescues 59 pythons

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 – Malaysian wildlife authorities rescued 59 pythons from being skinned and sold to restaurants and leather dealers, an official said Thursday.

Wildlife and National Parks Department enforcement head Saharudin Anan said the pythons were rescued in a raid last Monday from a warehouse south of the capital.

"We found the pythons, together with python and lizard skins in the store where they were in the midst of being sold," he told AFP.

He added that two individuals had been arrested and were being investigated under the Wildlife Act.

"The python meat would end up on dinner tables in the region while the skins would be used in making exotic leather luggage for international markets in Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam," he added.

Wildlife groups say the trafficking of wildlife, for use in traditional medicine or to be eaten in kitchens abroad, has hit alarming levels in Malaysia.

Authorities in recent months have seized tiger skins, the remains of civet cats, long-tailed monkeys and wild boars that were destined for sale in neighbouring countries.

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