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KLIA becoming transit point for the wildlife smugglers
Published on: Sunday, May 21, 2017

I REFER to your report on the recent “RM9mi pangolin scales seizure.

The high number of arrests at KLIA for wildlife smuggling has raised eyebrows.

In April, some RM13mil worth of rhinoceros horns were seized at KLIA also.

Has KLIA become a transit point for the overseas market or are the pangolin scales, elephant tusks or rhinoceros horns from African countries that have been seized for the domestic market?

On May 2, Customs seized two shipments in 18 gunny sacks containing the scales that came from 1,400 adult pangolins. The pangolin scales weighing 712kg and worth RM9.12mil are the largest haul of the scales brought in from Congo and Ghana.

Based on reports, pangolins are hunted for their meat which can fetch per kg RM1,000 to RM1,500 in wild meat restaurants. The scales which contain kertine is said to have medicinal properties which cure cancer, rheumatism and malaria.

Pangolins face ill-treatment across South-East Asia and in Africa. In remote areas of Sumatra in Indonesia, professional pangolin hunters poach hundreds of thousands per year. Researchers from the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Gardens have documented the growing trade in whole pangolins and pangolin parts – with an estimated total value of over US$750,000 (RM3.3mil).

It’s not just a question of stamping out supply; tackling consumer demand and raising public awareness of the pangolin’s endangered status is also key for the Asean and Asian countries working together to put an end to the hunting and killing of protected wildlife.

The plight of the pangolin has attracted little public attention to date. The nocturnal and notoriously shy animal clearly needs its own celebrity campaigner to champion its cause.


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