Largest Ever Endangered Pangolin Bust

Story By: Lee Bullen, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Asia Wire Report

This is the moment customs officials seize a record-breaking 13 tonnes of scales from endangered pangolins – the most trafficked animal on the planet.

Picture Credits: AsiaWire/@desmondtslee & AsiaWire/@SingaporeCustoms

The pictures show the world’s large haul, worth 40 million GBP, at the Singapore Customs Pasir Panjang Export Inspection Station on the southern coast of the island city-state of Singapore.

Pangolins are sought after for their tender meat while some cultures in Africa and Asia believe that their scales have medicinal properties.

They have large keratin scales covering their skin and they are the only known mammals with this protection feature.

It is estimated that the keratin scales came from around 17,000 pangolins, classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Alongside the scales, port officials also found 177 kilogrammes (390 lbs) of cut up elephant ivory worth 120,000 USD (91,400 GBP) in a container, sent from Nigeria and was destined for Vietnam and was packed among frozen beef.

Singapore Customs and the National Parks Board believe that the scales came from around 17,000 pangolins.

The previous biggest pangolin haul was recorded in China in 2017 when 12 tonnes of scales were confiscated by port authorities.

Under local laws, offenders face a fine of up to 500,000 USD (381,350 GBP) and two years in prison.

The local authorities said that the investigations are ongoing, and that the scales will be incinerated afterwards so that they will not appear on the black market.