Bumper crop of pangolins, scales seized in Malaysia, Indonesia

Left: Kuala Lumpur International Airport Customs officers found almost 400kg of smuggled pangolin scales yesterday. Above: On Wednesday, the Indonesian authorities seized hundreds of live pangolins and scales in a haul worth US$190,000.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport Customs officers found almost 400kg of smuggled pangolin scales yesterday. PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Left: Kuala Lumpur International Airport Customs officers found almost 400kg of smuggled pangolin scales yesterday. Above: On Wednesday, the Indonesian authorities seized hundreds of live pangolins and scales in a haul worth US$190,000.
Above: On Wednesday, the Indonesian authorities seized hundreds of live pangolins and scales in a haul worth US$190,000.PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KUALA LUMPUR • A US$1.2 million (S$1.7 million) illegal shipment of scales from the critically endangered pangolin has been uncovered in Malaysia, officials said yesterday, the second such seizure in a week and days after hundreds of live pangolins were seized in neighbouring Indonesia.

Customs officials at Kuala Lumpur International Airport discovered 16 boxes of the smuggled scales weighing almost 400kg.

Last Friday, Customs officers seized almost 300kg of scales from the creatures, which are also known as "scaly anteaters".

Both shipments had come from Ghana and been transported by Turkish Airlines.

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Pangolins - docile mammals with a thick armour - are indigenous to parts of South-east Asia and Africa.

Their meat is considered a delicacy in China and their scales are sometimes used in the production of crystal methamphetamine.

Soaring demand for the reclusive creature has seen an estimated one million pangolins plucked from Asian and African forests over the past decade, sending their numbers to perilous lows.

Ms Elizabeth John, senior communications officer of the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network (Traffic), hailed the rapid success of the Customs department in making two such busts within a week.

  • 300kg 

    Last Friday, Malaysian Customs officers seized almost 300kg of scales from the creatures, which are also known as "scaly anteaters".

  • 712kg 

    Malaysia last month made its largest haul of such scales, estimated to be worth more than US$2 million.

"But there is also a need for intelligence-led cross border investigations to nab the big players who are driving the trade," she said.

Malaysia last month made its largest haul of such scales weighing 712kg and estimated to be worth more than US$2 million.

The authorities in neighbouring Indonesia on Wednesday seized hundreds of live pangolins and scales in a haul worth US$190,000.

Two men were arrested after navy officers raided a warehouse near a port on Sumatra island late on Tuesday, acting on a tip-off that it was being used to store the creatures.

They discovered 223 live pangolins, 24 dead ones which were frozen, as well as nine large bags of pangolin scales, local navy spokesman Sahala Sinaga said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2017, with the headline 'Bumper crop of pangolins, scales seized in Malaysia, Indonesia'. Print Edition | Subscribe