BANGKOK (AP) — Authorities in Thailand have rescued nearly 100 endangered pangolins worth about $32,000 that they say were to be sold and eaten outside the country.

Customs Department Director-General Prasong Poontaneat says the anteaters were seized from a truck Sunday evening in the southern province of Prachuap Khiri Khan after a driver fled a checkpoint there.

Thailand, pangolin

A Thai zoo official feeds pangolin with milk at the Dusit zoo in Bangkok. Pic: AP.

Prasong says the driver was detained.

Prasong said Monday the mammals might have come from Malaysia or Indonesia and were en route to either Vietnam or China, where many believe they can cure ailments and boost sexual prowess.

The animals are protected by a convention on international trade in endangered species of which Thailand is a member.