By Rhishja Cota-Larson
Authorities in Malaysia and Thailand have intercepted two illegal shipments of live pangolins in a span of less than 10 days.
The first incident occurred on March 19th, when Malaysia’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks seized 133 pangolins at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). The pangolins were headed to Vientiane, Laos, and had been declared as “live crabs” by the shipper. No arrests have been made yet, according to Utusan.
Just one week later, on March 26th, the Thai navy confiscated 104 pangolins and arrested two traffickers. Lieutenant Commander Garan Minwong of the Thai navy’s Mekong river task force told the Chiang Rai Times that the pangolins were destined for China, via Laos. (04/12/2013: Update on Recent Pangolin Seizure in Thailand.)
In January 2013, a Malaysian court sentenced Muhammad Norazzuan Ahmad Zahari — a former policeman — to jail for attempting to smuggle 18 pangolins out of the country. Earlier that same month, customs officers at Jakarta International Airport nabbed four Chinese nationals who were attempting to smuggle 189 pangolin skins and 248 hornbill casques out of Indonesia and presumably into China.
Based on seizure numbers, an estimated 60,000 pangolins were victims of the illegal trade in 2012.