SINGAPORE – Singapore intercepted a second shipping container packed full of pangolin scales destined for Vietnam in less than a week, authorities said on Wednesday, a combined haul that set a new record for the global transit hub, and has conservationists worried that the most trafficked animal in the world is hurtling towards extinction.
The seizure of 12.7 tonnes of scales, worth an estimated $38 million, follows last week’s haul of 12.9 tonnes (see pic below).
The scales in that seizure, the biggest of its kind worldwide in five years, were said to have come from about 17,000 pangolins.
The authorities said the scales in this week’s seizure came from two species, equivalent to around 21,000 pangolins, the world’s most poached animal.
WildAid said: “The sheer size of recent seizures suggests that African pangolins may be heading very quickly towards extinction.”
South African current affairs show Carte Blanche revealed back in 2017 that the pangolin was teetering on the edge of extinction.
“Across Africa, over a million have been removed from the wild over the last decade and South Africa is at the centre of the illegal trade,” Carte Blanche said in an episode in which the TV crew went undercover to expose a dangerous syndicate of smugglers in SA.
WildAid – a US-based environmental organisation that focuses on reducing the demand for wildlife products – suggested this week that China could end the sale of pangolin scales “in the same way they did ivory. China could help save African and Asian pangolins.”
The latest shipment came from Nigeria.
“The container was declared to have contained cassia seeds,” Singapore’s National Parks Board, Customs and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said in a joint statement.
Pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, are critically endangered. They are coveted for their meat, which is considered a delicacy, and scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat aliments from cancer to arthritis.
(Reporting by Fathin Ungku/Reuters and Jenni Baxter/SAPeople; Editing by Clarence Fernandez/Reuters and Jenni Baxter/SAPeople)
WATCH Pangolin in the wild
— WildAid (@WildAid) April 11, 2019