Malaysian authorities seize record 6 tons of African pangolin scales

Malaysian authorities seize record 6 tons of African pangolin scales

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Customs authorities in Malaysia have made one of their biggest ever seizures of African pangolin scales, recovering 6 tons of the contraband in a container at the country’s busiest port.

Officials at Port Klang found the scales hidden beneath 63 sacks of cashew nuts on April 1. The shipment had been labeled as only containing cashew nuts, which raised a red flag to authorities.

Malaysian authorities seize record 6 tons of African pangolin scales

“Cashew nuts is a common false declaration for shipments carrying African ivory and pangolin scales,” Elizabeth John, senior communications officer at the wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia, told .

This isn’t the first time pangolin scales have been intercepted in Malaysia. In 2017, customs authorities seized 2 tons of pangolin scales in Port Klang, and in 2019, wildlife officials raided a factory and warehouse in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah to find thousands of pangolins — both dead and alive — as well as more than 360 kilograms (795 pounds) of pangolin scales, bear paws and flying fox carcasses. This latest 6-ton shipment is the largest to have ever been seized in Port Klang.

The exact origin of the pangolin scales is unknown, although they certainly came from Africa based on the fact that the scales are from a mix of African pangolins, John said. A new report by the Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC) suggests that more than half of global seizures of pangolin scales originate from Nigeria.

Yet pangolins are nearing extinction in Nigeria, so it’s more likely that the pangolins come from neighboring countries, with Nigeria possibly still acting as a trading hub. Traders are also known to frequently change their routes, which makes tracing a shipment’s origins extremely hard, according to a comprehensive report by TRAFFIC.

There are eight species of pangolins: four native to Asia (the Chinese, Sunda, Indian and Philippine pangolins), and four from Africa (the ground, giant, white-bellied and black-bellied pangolins). The Indian pangolin is categorized as endangered and the three other Asian ones as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List; the ground and black-tailed pangolins are listed as vulnerable, and the giant and white-bellied pangolins as endangered. Pangolins are considered the most trafficked animal in the world, with more than a million of these animals traded since 2000.

Royal Malaysian Customs
Royal Malaysian Customs

Pangolins are mainly valued for their scales, used in traditional Asian medicine, even though they’re made from the same substance, keratin, as human fingernails and hair. In some countries, pangolins are also traded for their meat, and their scales are used for decorations in rituals and jewelry, according to a report by World Animal Protection (WAP).

The pangolin has been identified as a possible source or intermediary host of the novel behind the pandemic, although this has not been confirmed. Yet the pandemic doesn’t appear to be slowing down the global trade in pangolins, or other wild animals.

“With the the country’s resources focused on dealing with the public health coronavirus pandemic, those behind this shipment probably thought they’d get one over the Royal Malaysian Customs, but were themselves caught out,” Kanitha Krishnasamy, director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia, said in a statement. “This hopefully shows traffickers that enforcement agencies aren’t letting their guard down during trying times. Stopping should be part of continued, long term efforts to curb the threat of .”

This article by Elizabeth Claire Alberts was first published on on 7 April 2020.


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Irene Leggett
Irene Leggett

Once again, innocent voiceless animals and birds are suffering at the hands of brain-dead, ignorant, pathetic pieces of human trash. When will these ‘zombie-like’ brain-dead masses wake up to the fact that animal parts, such as dog/cat meat, bear bile, tiger/lion bones, rhino horn and every other animal part one can think of, will NOT cure ailments, will NOT stop diseases and most certainly will NOT make the pathetic, inept men more virile. I wonder what they’ll do when the majority of their so-called medicinal sources become extinct????

Diane
Diane

My heart bleeds. When are these stupid, stupid people going to realise that pangolin scales, rhino horn, goats horn, pickled tiger – and the rest of these superstitious so-called “medicines” have NO MEDICINAL powers whatsoever, and stop pushing these animals towards extinction.

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

No words just tears