KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Malaysian authorities have made a record seizure of about 30 tonnes of pangolins and their scales worth some US$2 million (S$2.7 million) in raids on major processing facilities, police and environmentalists said on Tuesday (Feb 12).
The haul included about 1,800 boxes full of frozen pangolins stuffed inside three refrigerated containers, 572 more frozen pangolins in six freezers, 61 live pangolins in cages, and 361kg of pangolin scales, according to police.
The South-east Asian nation is battling to clamp down on rampant poaching and smuggling of pangolins, the world’s most heavily trafficked mammal.
The critically endangered creatures, also known as scaly anteaters, have long been targeted as their body parts are highly valued in traditional medicine in countries including China and Vietnam while their meat is considered a delicacy.
Following a tip-off, wildlife officials in Sabah state raided a factory and a warehouse last Thursday, according to a statement from local police chief Omar Mammah.
Police arrested a 35-year-old man suspected to have been in charge of the factory as part of an illegal syndicate.
The operation is believed to have been running for the past seven years, and police believe the pangolins were bought from poachers to be distributed locally.