14 tons of pangolin scales have been recently seized in Singapore. Conservation specialists are tagging the confiscation as the largest yet, considering that all 14 tons came from only one shipment.
Paul Thomson, an official with the Pangolin Specialist Group, explains that to come up with this huge shipment, 36,000 pangolins would have to be killed. The group is one of the many organizations that are under the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Thompson stated that the seizure is proof that the pangolins are facing a crisis. Thompson further explained that if the trend of poaching pangolin does not stop soon, the scaly anteater might end up being extinct.
Four species of pangolin are currently found in around Asian land. The other four species roam African lands. Poachers trade the mammals for their meat and scales and are believed to be at the top of the list for the most trafficked mammal in the world. About 300 pangolins are being poached on a daily basis.
On 2014, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has declared all eight species of pangolin as threatened to be extinct. Two species are found to be critically endangered.
As a defense mechanism, the pangolin curls itself into a ball. Specialists have found this trait to be one of the reasons why the scaly anteaters are easy targets for poachers.
The recently seized scales were shipped from Nigeria and are supposed to be shipped to Vietnam. China tops the most lucrative black market that sells pangolin scales. Vietnam is second in rank.
Other than alleged health benefits, pangolin meat is seen as a luxury in Vietnam. This makes it more enticing to some as it conveys an elevated social status. In China, the pangolin is believed to cure a range of ailments such as skin diseases to rheumatism. Consumers take it in wine or as traditional Chinese medication in powdered form. The scales are believed to stimulate lactation and drain pus as well.
Trafficking of all pangolin species is forbidden by international laws. However, the recent seizure has proven that trade in pangolin has not even slowed down.
Over a month ago, 33 tons of pangolin meat in Malaysia. Another shipment carrying nine tons of pangolin scales was intercepted by Hong Kong authorities earlier that month along with 1,000 elephant tusks.
Singaporean officials have reported that the recent pangolin scales shipment seizure came with about 400 pounds of ivory.