PETALING JAYA: A Malaysian was among three held following the bust of an illegal pangolin trafficking ring in Jambi, Indonesia.
Two tonnes of pangolin meat and some 650kg of pangolin scales were seized from the men when the district police stormed a warehouse which was believed to belong to one of the two Indonesian suspects.
Indonesian online news portal Tribun Jambi reported that the head of the Jambi police Supt Kuswahyudi confirmed the arrests were made on Thursday.
“We found 13 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 650kg,” he said, adding that following the arrests, one of the suspects revealed the whereabouts of their network in Batanghari, a Jambi regency.
“Police immediately went to the scene and arrested two more suspects,” he said.
Traffic South-East Asia senior communications officer Elizabeth John said pangolin scales were largely used in traditional Chinese medicine and traditional medicine in the Indo-China region which spans Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
“In late October, authorities in West Kalimantan busted another ring and seized 40 dead pangolins, a live pangolin as well as a taxidermy pangolin, and arrested three people,” she said.
The syndicate took the pangolins from West Kalimantan and reportedly traded them abroad via Jakarta and Sarawak, revealed John.
“We urge the Malaysian authorities to work with their Indonesian counterparts in Borneo and Sumatra to weed out these pangolin trafficking syndicates,” she said.
Wildlife Conservation Society Malaysia director Dr Melvin Gumal said the estimated worth of the seized pangolin meat and scales in the Jambi case depends on the place it is being marketed to, as demand varies from country to country.
In Malaysia, he said, the price per kilo of pangolin meat was estimated to range between RM200 and RM220, while the scales come with a heftier price tag, at an estimated RM400 to RM440 per kilo.
“These are approximate values as they are illegal items. A tonne of pangolin meat is worth RM200,000, and since two tonnes were seized, the figure is double,” said Dr Melvin.
Once the exotic pangolin parts leave Indonesia, the value can go up to RM1,200 per kilo for its meat and an estimated RM12,000 per kilo for its scales, he added.