Pangolins are considered critically endangered. However, their scales are very popular in the black market. Recently, a shipment with $1.2 million worth of pangolin scales was seized in Malaysia.
This is the second seized shipment in Malaysia last week. Customs officials discovered 16 boxes of smuggled pangolin scales, with a combined weight of 400 kilograms (880 pounds), at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Last June 16, the local government also seized about 300 kilograms of pangolin scales. Based on the investigations, both shipments originated from Ghana and were sent via Turkish Airlines.
Pangolins are known for having thick armor and are also known as "scaly anteaters. They are indigenous to Southeast Asia and in Africa. Every part them are sellable, which make the animal a popular black market commodity. Pangolin meat is a Chinese delicacy. The scales are dried and used in some traditional oriental medicines but they are also used in the production of some prohibited drugs like crystal methamphetamine.
The coveted scales are made up of keratin which resembles the composition of human nails. Pangolin scales are sturdy and used as protection against other predators. In 2015, pangolin scales can cost up to $3,000 per kilogram. In 2015, Pangolins were dubbed as the "most hunted" animal because of their meat and scales.
According to reports, there are almost one million pangolins killed in Asia and Africa in the last decade. Now more than ever, conservationists lobby for the protection of the remaining low number of the species.
"But there is also a need for intelligence-led cross-border investigations to nab the big players who are driving the trade," Elizabeth John, senior communications officer of the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network (Traffic).
Malaysia seized a total of $2 million Pangolin scales last month. Meanwhile, in Indonesia, live pangolins and scales were also seized. The amount of the latest seized shipment is estimated to be worth $190,000.
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