Chinese authorities have intercepted 956 smuggled pangolin carcasses — one of the largest ever illegal pangolin operations it has ever seen, reports China’s state broadcaster, Xinhua.
The carcasses were being smuggled by car through the southernmost Guangdong province, which houses the port city of Hong Kong, and were hidden in 189 cooler containers. The smuggled wildlife cargo weighed 4 tonnes altogether. The driver was arrested and can face up to 10 years in jail according to a recent reinterpretation of China’s criminal law regarding the consumption and trade of endangered species – a move that is hoped to signify a crackdown on the issue by national authorities.
Demand for pangolins is high in China, where the flesh is sought after as a delicacy and the scales are consumed for alleged medicinal purposes.
Last year was deadly for the charismatic and critically endangered pangolin, with over 8,000 pangolins seized worldwide. And since seizures represent just 10 to 20 percent of the actual illegal trade volume, this does not bode well for the vulnerable creature.
According to China’s news.163.com website, the seized pangolins were destroyed by authorities.