By Rhishja Cota-Larson
Hong Kong Customs officials have intercepted an illegal shipment of 2.6 tons of pangolin scales from Cameroon via Malaysia — the second haul from the African continent in less than a month.
The 2,340 kg of scales were discovered on June 11, inside 115 bags on a shipment declared as timber. A “Malaysian businessman” was arrested following the discovery, but has since been released on bail pending further investigation, according to the South China Morning Post. This follows the May 28 seizure of one ton of pangolin scales, initially reported by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department on May 28 as arriving from South Africa (however, later information suggests the illicit cargo arrived from Kenya or Uganda, via Malaysia).
Wong Wai-hung, a divisional commander of the department’s ports and maritime command, told SCMP that the two recent pangolin trafficking incidents are related.
“It is believed that the two shipments of pangolin scales belong to the same smuggling syndicate.”
Since October 2013, at least three large shipments of pangolin scales from Africa have been detected by Hong Kong Customs officers — sadly, an unsurprising development in the plight of the pangolin.
Suspected smuggling activities can be reported to Hong Kong Customs through the 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.