Scaled Up: Malaysian Authorities Seize ​A Record Number of Pangolins

Malaysian authorities seized 30 tonnes of pangolins and their scales worth some US$2 million in raids on major processing facilities.
Friday 15 February 2019
Photo: AFP Relax News

The Royal Malaysian Customs department continue with their efforts to clamp down on the rampant poaching and smuggling of this odd-looking creature in the wild. Still in great demand in Asia, pangolins are the world’s most heavily trafficked mammal.

The most recent haul included about 1,800 boxes full of frozen pangolins stuffed inside three refrigerated containers, 572 more frozen pangolins in six freezers, 61 live pangolins in cages, and 361 kilogrammes of pangolin scales, according to police.

The critically endangered creatures, also known as scaly anteaters, have long been targeted as their body parts are highly valued in traditional medicine in countries including China and Vietnam while their meat is considered a delicacy.

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Photo: AFP Relax News

Following a tip-off, wildlife officials in Sabah raided a factory and a warehouse, according to a statement from local police chief Omar Mammah. Police arrested a 35-year-old man suspected to have been in charge of the factory as part of an illegal syndicate. The operation is believed to have been running for the past seven years, and police believe the pangolins were bought from poachers to be distributed locally.

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Royal Malaysian Customs seized pangolins including their scales in Port Dickson last year. Photo: AFP

Traffic, a Malaysia-based group that monitors wildlife smuggling around the region, said it was the “biggest such bust Malaysia has seen to date”.

“No threatened species can withstand industrial levels of extraction such as this,” Kanitha Krishnasamy, the group’s Southeast Asia director said.

The seizures also shone a light on Sabah’s major role in animal trafficking – the state has been implicated in smuggling cases involving over 40 tonnes of pangolins since August 2017, according to Traffic.

Malaysia regularly foils attempts to smuggle pangolins and their parts out of the country but usually on a far smaller scale.

Source: AFP Relax News

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