Malaysian authorities have seized a record 30 tonnes of pangolins and pangolin products in eastern Sabah state, Borneo, the biggest such bust in the country, a wildlife monitoring group said on Feb. 12.
The monitoring network Traffic said in a statement that Sabah police this month uncovered two major pangolin processing facilities, throwing a spotlight on Sabah’s role in the sourcing and trafficking of the endangered scaly mammal.
Sabah police said that they had seized three refrigerated containers containing 1,800 boxes filled with frozen pangolins, another 572 frozen pangolins in separate freezers, 61 live pangolins and 361 kilograms of pangolin scales. Two bear paws and carcasses of four flying fox were also recovered.
The anteater-like pangolin is said to be the most widely trafficked mammal in the world, and its scales are in high demand in Asia for use in traditional Chinese medicine. The scales are made of keratin, the same material in human fingernails, and are often roasted and ground to a powder before being added into a mix of ingredients to purportedly cure arthritis, promote breast feeding for mothers and boost male virility. Their meat is also considered a delicacy in China and other Asian countries. Scientists have designated all species of pangolins as being at risk of extinction. In the last two decades, the number of pangolins worldwide has dropped by about 90 percent.
Sabah police chief Omar Mammah said in the statement that initial investigations showed the facility has operated for seven years and that the suspect had bought the pangolins from local illegal hunters for distribution locally and to the neighboring state of Sarawak. He estimated the haul to be worth at least 8.4 million ringgit (US$2 million).
Traffic said the whole pangolin bodies found frozen and boxed were likely to have been sold for meat consumption. It said the seizures came a decade after Sabah authorities discovered logbooks in 2009 kept by another pangolin trafficking ring. It said the logbooks revealed that about 22,200 pangolins were killed and 834.4 kilograms of pangolin scales sourced throughout the state and supplied to the syndicate over 13 months.
Photo courtesy of Taipei Zoo
1. seize v.
查獲；扣押 (cha2 huo4)
2. pangolin n.
穿山甲 (chuan1 shan1 jia3)
3. trafficking n.
非法販運 (fei1 fa3 fan4 yun)
4. scale n.
鱗片 (lin2 pian4)
5. keratin n.
角（質）蛋白 (jiao3 (zhi2) dan4 bai2)
5. delicacy n.
佳餚；美味 (jia1 yao2; mei3 wei4)
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