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Malaysia torches 2.8 tonnes of seized pangolin scales in a bid to thwart smugglers of the endangered animal

  • Pangolins are heavily poached for their meat and parts, which traditional Chinese medicine practitioners claim increase blood circulation and lactation
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 December, 2018, 9:16pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 December, 2018, 9:15pm

Malaysia on Thursday torched nearly three tonnes of seized pangolin scales worth US$9 million in a bid to deter trafficking of the endangered animal.

The Southeast Asian nation is battling to clamp down on rife trafficking through its borders of the ant-eating mammals, whose scales are highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine.

“Such a huge seizure and torching of it is definitely a blow to smuggling syndicates,” said Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim, the director-general of the Wildlife and National Parks Department.

Some 3,000 pangolins would have been killed to obtain the 2.8 tonnes of scales, Abdul Kadir estimated. The scales were confiscated by customs officials at Malaysia’s Port Klang between May and September 2017.

The animal parts arrived in three different shipments from Ghana and Cameroon, and had false local addresses, officials said.

“Forensic examination of the scales showed that it is from the African species,” said Abdul Kadir.

The scales were incinerated at a private waste disposal plant in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, south of the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Seized pangolin scales are usually meant for foreign markets including China and Vietnam, where raw pangolin scales are sold for large profits in traditional Chinese medicine.

Last year Malaysia torched eight tonnes of pangolin scales, Abdul Kadir said, adding that wild pangolins in Malaysia have become a rare sight because of rampant hunting and deforestation.

Pangolins are also heavily poached for their meat which is considered a delicacy while products obtained from the animal are thought to increase blood circulation and lactation.