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Four Thousand Disemboweled Pangolins Found

In the name of medicinal value—that is, his health is all important—man becomes insensitive to brutality and cruelty inflicted on animals despite laws to protect the helpless animals.

Over 13 tons, or about 4,000, descaled and disemboweled pangolins were discovered in a cargo container at Taiwan's Kaohsiung’s Pier 66, last week.

The Taipei Times reports that the original shipping company failed to return a shipping container to its original address, saying that the recipient refused to accept the shipment. Customs then inspected the container and found frozen sardines, a suspected cover for the pangolins found in the rear of the container.

The container was shipped from Malaysia to Kaohsiung on December 27 last year.

 A local customs officer said officials suspect the group behind the trafficking knew the pangolins would be found and hoped to swap the contents of the container while it was still in the harbor. However, it is believed that the group was unable to find a good opportunity to make the swap and decided to return the container before making another attempt to smuggle in the pangolins. 

Taiwan was likely only the transshipment point because of the large number of pangolins found. The plan was probably to transfer the cargo to another ship intended for other nations, probably China or Vietnam. 

China and the U.S. were the two countries most commonly involved (i.e. having the highest number of incidents regardless of the quantity involved in each incident). China was the main destination of large-quantity shipments of scales and whole pangolins, while the U.S. was the main destination for large-quantity shipments of body parts. The quantities entering the U.S. were, however, not comparable to the massive shipments trafficked through Africa and Asia.

Known as the world’s most trafficked mammal, all eight (four Asian and four African) species of pangolins are prohibited from international trade under CITES.

 Pangolins are being sold for about $68.41 per kilogram.

The pangolins are used in traditional medicine in China, it is said. In fact, the whole animal itself is eaten. Fresh scales are never used but dried scales are roasted, ashed, cooked in oil, butter, vinegar, boy’s urine and so on to cure different kinds of ills like excessive nervousness, hysterical crying in children, women possessed by devils and ogres, malarial fever and deafness.

As a researcher once said, Pangolins -- two species of which are endangered and all of which are protected by international treaty -- are trafficked by the thousands for their scales, which are boiled off their bodies for use in traditional medicine; for their meat, which is a high-end delicacy here and in China; and for their blood, which is seen as a healing tonic.


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