Huge Pangolin haul shows crackdown is working
Indonesian officers last week raided the warehouse of a suspected illegal wildlife trader in Palembang, South Sumatra and have uncovered 14 tonnes of Malay Pangolins Manis javanica, leading to the arrests of 14 people.
The raid, which is the largest ever seizure of Pangolins in Indonesia, is being linked to two operations earlier this year by Vietnamese customs authorities that uncovered more than 23 tonnes of Pangolins.
Pangolins are reminiscent of armadillos with razor-sharp scales for protection, and are found in tropical regions of Africa and Asia, but demand for their scales and skin in traditional Chinese medicines, as well as their meat for eating, is placing heavy pressure on their dwindling populations.
In 2000, signatories to CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna & Flora) signed up to a complete ban on Pangolin trade, with some countries placing harsh penalties on those engaging in any such activities.
“WCS commend the Indonesian authorities on their laudable actions in this case. The illegal trade in wildlife is now a multi-million dollar international business. Endangered wildlife is being traded for food, medicines, ornaments, pets and more. This trade is already driving many species to the brink of extinction, If we don’t act soon it will be too late,” said Elizabeth Bennett, Director of the Hunting and Wildlife Trade Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
This latest seizure comes following a workshop held in early July by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) & TRAFFIC South-East Asia, that saw governments, conservationists and researchers to discuss the plight of pangolins in Asia.
Increasing the rate of successful enforcement efforts was a key issue raised during this workshop, and the recent efforts by the Indonesian authorities seem to show that progress is being made.
“The police in Indonesia have done an excellent job and should be applauded.” says Chris R. Shepherd, senior programme officer with TRAFFIC. “We hope that these criminals are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Yet despite full protection under Indonesian law, illegal trade has continued to push Pangolins ever closer to extinction.
TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, is a joint programme of WWF and IUCN.
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