Singapore makes second enormous seizure of pangolin scales in days

James Marshall
April 13, 2019

Officials said scales from a total of 38,000 seized scales are related to four pangolin types in Africa.

A record 14.2 tons of the scales were found hidden among packets of frozen beef in shipping containers on April 3.

Last week, 12.9 tonnes of pangolin scales worth $52.3 million were found by the authorities at the Pasir Panjang Export Inspection Station.

It placed pangolins on its priority list past year because of its status as the world's most trafficked mammal.

Singaporean authorities said Wednesday they had discovered almost 13 tonnes of pangolin scales worth about $38 million in a shipping container, the second major seizure of the creatures' parts in a week. About 12.7 tonnes of the animal parts were seized from a 40ft container that was en route from Nigeria to Vietnam. The scales are made of keratin, the same material in human fingernails.

Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy in some countries.

Naturally, wildlife groups have voiced their concern that the two seizures indicated a rise in pangolin poaching. He described this move as alarming for certain species of wildlife as it poses a real threat to conservation and animal welfare. Image: National Parks Board via AP.

Pangolins are an extremely lucrative catch, he said.

Paul Thomson, an official at the Pangolin Specialist Group, while it appears that pangolin poaching has increased, actual numbers are hard to ascertain.

It has been estimated that more than a million pangolins have been snatched from their habitats over the past decade despite global trade of the mammals being banned under the Convention on worldwide Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (Cites). "However, pangolins have typically been overlooked in terms of concerted conservation attention and action", Thomson told The Associated Press. "And this awareness has partly been driven by the high volumes of trafficking seen today".

In February, Malaysian officials seized 30 tons of pangolin and pangolin products.

The combined 25.6 tonnes seized in the two hauls this month were about 58 times the combined weight of the first two pangolin scale shipments intercepted in Singapore in 2015 and 2016, which amounted to about 0.44 tonnes, or 440kg. The shipment, which originated in Nigeria, was bound for Vietnam.

Under Singaporean law, those found guilty of the illegal import or export of wildlife can be fined up to S$500,000 ($370,000) and jailed for up to two years.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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