Numerous people had called the police to report a neighbour who had five strange freezers in his property in the district of Jombang, Java, Indonesia. On 15 August, the police arrived at the address and made a horrific discovery.
Inside the large freezers were 657 pangolins - a small species of mammal with scales covering its entire body that happens to be a threatened species. They were vacuum-packed in plastic ans in a critical state. The man was immediately arrested and risks up to five years in prison.
Unfortunately, pangolins are a target amongst traffickers. In Asia, they meat is popular and considered a luxury in Chinese gastronomy. As for the scales, they are highly valued for their apparent medical properties and are sold at exorbitant prices. On the black market pangolin scales can be sold for up to $1000.
More than 100 000 of these little insectivorous mammals are victims of illegal trade each year, making them the most targeted animal amongst poachers and the most affected by illegal commerce. Today, they are in danger of extinction.
Pangolins are the only mammals in the world whose bodies are entirely covered in scales. They are prehistoric creatures, dating back 80 million years. According to the Telegraph, pangolins are in ‘precipitous decline’, have been ‘extirpated from vast areas’ of south-east Asia and are increasingly being plundered in Africa. All eight varieties of pangolin feature on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of animals threatened with extinction, and two are critically endangered.
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