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Six smugglers sentenced to jail time over pangolin trafficking in Malaysia

Six men have been sentenced to a year in jail after being convicted of smuggling 150 pangolins in peninsular Malaysia, reports Annamiticus. The men were also given fines totaling over $100,000.

Pangolins are small, scaly mammals that feed on termites much like South America’s anteaters. The animals are in demand for their scales, which are used in traditional medicine, and their meat and fetuses, which are eaten as a delicacy in some parts of East Asia.

The six men were caught last year attempting to smuggle the pangolins inside the trunks of three different vehicles. The men’s legal counsel has stated they will appeal the decision.

Despite the fact that pangolins are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), they are considered the world’s most trafficked animal. Custom officials in Hai Phong, Vietnam recently confiscated almost seven tons of pangolins, many of them said to be still alive.

Sunda pangolin in Borneo.
Sunda pangolin listed as Endangered in Borneo. Photo by: Piekfrosch/GNU Free Documentation License.

“Following huge declines in populations of the Chinese pangolin, trade has mainly involved the Sunda pangolin in recent years, which occurs across Southeast Asia, but pangolins are now being sourced from South Asia and as far as Africa to meet demand in East Asia,” Dan Challender, Co-Chair of the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group, noted recently. Experts say that law enforcement and sentencing needs to be significantly stepped up if pangolins are to survive.

The World’s Pangolin Species

Asian species

Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata), Near Threatened

Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis), Near Threatened

Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla), Endangered

Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica), Endangered

African species

Giant pangolin (Manis gigantea), Least Concern

Ground pangolin (Manis temminckii), Least Concern

Tree pangolin (Manis tricuspis), Near Threatened

Long-tailed pangolin (Manis tetradactyla), Least Concern

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