Malaysian Authorities Seize Record 700kg Haul Of Pangolin Scales
The pangolin is one of the most threatened species on the planet because it's highly prized in Asia for its meat and scales. The scales are believed to have medicinal qualities in parts of China, and believed by some to cure cancer or asthma.
It's believed more than one million of the animals have been illegally trafficked over the past decade.
But authorities in Malaysia have discovered 712kgs of the animal in two separate shipments, as reported by Yahoo. The first was intercepted in Kuala Lumpur, where sacks of scales were found on a flight believed to have come from Ghana, via Dubai.
Two days later, another shipment was seized after a flight arrived from Kenya. The two hauls of pangolin scales have a market value of $2.12 million (£1.63 million).
While it is an impressive sting by the Malaysian authorities, it's nowhere near the biggest seizure of the animal. In April 2013, 10,000kg of pangolin meat was found in a Chinese vessel after it ran around in the Philippines. Three years later, an Indonesian man was arrested after police found 650 pangolins in his freezer.
All eight species of the animal have been listed in the red category of threatened animals, meaning it's edging towards extinction.
An international conservation action plan was introduced in 2014, which aims to combat the poaching and trafficking of the animal while educating local communities as to its endangered status.
But conservationists are also struggling with efforts to breed them in the wild. Their habitat and diet is incredibly specific and they are susceptible to diseases such as pneumonia.
Prince William has thrown his voice to the issue when addressing the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade last year, saying: "We know that we aren't moving fast enough to keep up with the crisis. Rhinos, elephants, pangolins, lions, they are still being killed in horrifying numbers," he said.
"While we've made progress, the truth is we are still falling behind. A betting man would still bet on extinction."
In a separate video, the Prince says: "The pangolin runs the risk of becoming extinct before most people have even heard of them."
Featured Image Credit: PA