Authorities in Malaysia recently busted a record illegal pangolin trade operation. They managed to get a hold of 30 tons of pangolin parts in Sabah, a state on the island of Borneo. Wildlife conservation groups have called this the biggest bust of its kind in the Southeast Asian nation. A full-scale pangolin processing factory in Sabah was uncovered by the local police leading to the recovery of the massive loot, rescue of some live animals, as well as the arrest of the factory manager.
Exposing a Lucrative Trade Business
Pangolins are anteaters. These scaly mammals are the most trafficked mammals in the world. There are eight known species, four of which live in Asia, while the other four live in Africa. Some pangolin species are also known to be extinct. These unique creatures are usually 12 to 39 inches long. According to international lists of threatened animal species, half of the pangolin species are listed as vulnerable, while a quarter is classed as endangered, and the remainder as critically endangered.
The biggest risk to the pangolin population comes from poachers. Loss of their natural habitats through activities such as deforestation is another cause for concern. The illegal pangolin trafficking industry is highly active. These mammals are traded for their meat and their characteristic scales. In a few parts of Africa and Asia, pangolin scales are believed to have healing properties and find another use in local medicine. International trade is prohibited without a permit.
The recent bust in Malaysia uncovered frozen pangolins, some packed into 1,800 boxes, while another 572 were found in separate freezers. Around 800 pounds of scales were also found, together with 61 live animals. The estimated value of everything recovered is close to the $2 million mark. It has been found that the factory has been running for 7 years. This operation has shed a lot of light on the pangolin trade industry happening in Sabah.