KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department is trying to get pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, upgraded into a totally protected species in the state.
This comes after a Sessions Court in Lahad Datu fined a man RM25,000, in default three years’ jail, after he pleaded guilty to the possession of live pangolins and 900g of scales on Thursday.
Department director William Baya said pangolins were categorised as a protected species under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.
“Our department is putting its efforts to upgrade this endangered species to Schedule 1 (Totally Protected) of the Enactment,” he said here yesterday.
Abdullah Rappe, 56, was found with 24 live pangolins, a carcass and a plastic bag full of internal organs and the scales when he was arrested at a roadblock by the department on Feb 20.
The animals and other items were stored inside the vehicle he was driving along the Sandakan-Lahad Datu road.
Abdullah paid the fine.
Baya said the live pangolins seized during the roadblock had been sent to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre for immediate veterinary care.
Twenty of these, he said, were successfully released back to a forest reserve.
“I am glad that the pangolins are now back in the wild and did not end up on someone’s dinner plate or used in traditional Chinese medicine,” Baya said.
Pangolins are deemed an exotic delicacy among many, with their parts, including the scales, being used for medicine, although there is no proof in their value.
Called the most trafficked animal in the world – making up 20% of the wildlife black market – all the eight species of pangolin in the world are now considered threatened.