A massive shipment of rhinoceros horns worth nearly $12 million (£9,346,800) has been stopped at Kuala Lumpur airport in what is believed to be Southeast Asia’s largest single seizure.

A total of 50 horns bound for Ha Noi, Vietnam were discovered at a postal aviation centre at the Malaysia airport, a place wildlife experts say is a major transit point for illegally trafficked endangered species.

The "unusual mix of animal parts" contained nine other carcasses believed to be tigers and bears.

Traffic, a group that monitors the illegal wildlife trade, says this case highlights the transport link between Malaysia and Vietnam, where horns are used in medicine.

"This discovery raises questions about how criminals are accumulating wildlife parts and using a multitude of routes and methods to traffic them onwards to destination countries," said Traffic's acting Southeast Asia director Kanitha Krishnasamy.

The incident follows several high-profile rhino horn seizures in Southeast Asia in 2017 and earlier this year, including a seizure of 46 rhino horns at Vietnam’s Noi Bai International Airport.

In Southeast Asia it is believed rhino horns have healing properties. Credit: traffic.org

At least 15 Vietnamese nationals have been held for wildlife related offences in Malaysia since 2016, having been caught with hundreds of wildlife parts and snares.

The United Nations has banned the international trade of rhino horns but for many Asian cultures the horns are part of historic traditions.

Neither the source of the horns and the carcasses, nor the length of time they have been in storage, is known, but the case is being investigated by Interpol.