By Rhishja Cota-Larson
It seems that no pangolin population is safe from the deadly illegal trade: During the final ten days of April 2013, pangolins and scales were seized in the Philippines, India, Cameroon, and France.
On April 20th — just days after the shocking discovery of 2,000 frozen pangolins on a Chinese fishing vessel which ran aground in Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park — the Philippine Coast Guard seized another 23 pangolins from a cargo ship at the port of Coron. A tip-off prompted the PCG to search the M/V Maria Lydia, a Philippine vessel owned and operated by JCAP Shipping Lines and with a business address in Coron, Palawan. 22 of the pangolins were still alive at the time.
According to GMA News, the Maria Lydia’s skipper, Menandro Fabul, claims that he did not know who “left the anteaters” on the ship. However, Coast Guard Palawan head Commodore Enrico Evangelista is “not satisfied with the claim” and the PCG plans to press charges against Fabul.
Also on April 20th, a suspect identified as “Shakeel” was arrested and 11 kg of pangolin scales were seized in Uttar Pradesh, India. The suspect is “alleged to be a member of an international gang” involved in the trafficking of endangered species. Using an average weight for Asian pangolins of seven kilograms and scales comprising 20 percent of a pangolin’s weight, this seizure represents approximately eight pangolins.
Then on April 29th, the Cameroon-based wildlife law enforcement NGO LAGA reported that seven sacks (weight not known at time of writing) of pangolin scales had been seized in Limbe. A Cameroonian and a Chinese national were arrested. Founder of LAGA and author of The Last Great Ape, Ofir Drori, says that “the trade in pangolin scales is booming” in the region. He informed Annamiticus that the Chinese national had attempted to “conceal the sacks into three carry-on suitcases”. More....