Malaysia: 50 pangolins en route to Laos seized

New Straits Times 2 Mar 12;

SEPANG: Customs Department officers rescued 50 pangolins from being smuggled out to Laos at Kuala Lumpur International Airport early yesterday.

The protected mammals worth about RM57,500 were found sealed in 25 boxes which were on transit to Vientiane, the capital of Laos, during an inspection at 2am.

Customs deputy director-general (enforcement) Datuk Zainul Abidin Taib said the consignment which was sent from Penang was tagged as boxes containing live crabs, but after further checks on the boxes, they were found to be packed with pangolins.

"One of the boxes had a hole in it and when my officer inspected the box, he noticed that it contained pangolins and not live crabs," he said.

Zainul said the mammals could fetch around RM250 per kilogramme in the black market.

He said the endangered species would be handed to the Wildlife Department for further action once investigations into the falsely declared items were completed.

Pangolins are among the most illegally traded animals in Southeast Asia.

The mammals are covered in tough, overlapping scales. These burrowing mammals eat ants and termites using an extraordinarily long, sticky tongue and are able to quickly roll themselves up into a tight ball when threatened.

Eight different pangolin species can be found across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Poaching for illegal wildlife trade and habitat loss have made these creatures one of the most endangered groups of mammals in the world.

Smuggling bid exposed
Simon Khoo The Star 2 Mar 12;

SEPANG: A trapped pangolin which punctured a hole in a storage box in its bid to escape exposed the attempt to smuggle out the animals at a warehouse at the KL International Airport here.

Customs officers, upon seeing the puncture, inspected the box, one of 25 that was declared to contain live crabs, and was surprised to see two pangolins tied in it.

There were similar pairs of pangolins in all the other boxes as well.

Customs assistant director-general (Enforcement) Datuk Zainul Abidin Taib said yesterday that their checks found the protected species were bound for Vientiane, Laos, from Penang.

He said a pangolin is worth about RM1,150 in the black market and the consignment of 50 pangolins could fetch RM57,500.

“If nothing is done to safeguard its existence, it may be extinct due to poaching activities,” he said, adding that it was the first success by the department this year to stop the smuggling out of protected animals.

Zainul Abidin said the case would be investigated under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, adding that they would trace the owners and others responsible for the transshipment.

Once investigations are completed, the pangolins would be handed over to the Wildlife Protection and National Parks Department for the next course of action.