Indonesia: Pangolin Smugglers Doing Their Dirty Work [Photos]

Wildlife for sale at the Denpasar bird market in Bali, Indonesia.
Wildlife for sale at the Denpasar Bird Market in Bali, Indonesia.

A series of disturbing photos taken on October 21, 2013, shows pangolin traffickers operating at the Denpasar Bird Market (pasar burung) in Bali, Indonesia.

This incident was reported to Annamiticus by a concerned witness who photographed the pangolins arriving in crates and then being stuffed into bags for transport at one of the storefronts. I’ve passed the photos and accompanying information along to our colleagues at TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, who will be following up with the relevant Indonesian authorities.

“Observations such as these, involving totally protected wildlife, highlight the need for the Government of Indonesia to crack down hard on the wildlife markets,” said Dr. Chris R. Shepherd, Director of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.

“These markets are hubs for trade in a wide variety of illegal and threatened species, and completely undermine the Governments efforts to end illegal wildlife trade”.

Dealers at the Denpasar bird market unpacking live pangolins from crates.
Dealers at the Denpasar bird market unpacking live pangolins from crates.

During the months of August through October 24, 2013, at least 2,804 pangolins were recorded in 15 pangolin trafficking incidents across seven countries. This conservative figure represents both live and dead pangolins, as well as pangolin scales, destined for the illegal trade.

Dealers at the Denpasar bird market stuffing pangolins into sacks.
Dealers at the Denpasar bird market stuffing pangolins into sacks.

An estimated 105,410 — 210,820 pangolins have been plundered from the wild in Asia and Africa since 2011 — all because of myths about alleged health benefits of consuming pangolin scales and pangolin flesh.

Pangolins in sacks, awaiting transport (long-tailed macaque in foreground).
Pangolins in sacks, awaiting transport (long-tailed macaque in foreground).

If you recognize any of the people in these photos, please contact us: rhishja (at) annamiticus (dot) com.


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Rhishja Cota-Larson

I am the founder of Annamiticus, and I work as an independent Wildlife Trade and Communication Design Consultant. I have journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. I am a Co-Chair of the SSN Pangolin Working Group. At CITES meetings, I collaborate with colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species. I am a Wildlife Trade and Trafficking Consultant for the upcoming documentary The Price, the host of Behind the Schemes and author of the book Murder, Myths & Medicine. I enjoy desert gardening, herping, reading, designing, and walking with my dogs.