PETALING JAYA: Taiwanese Customs found 4,000 butchered pangolins shipped from Malaysia in a cargo container at the Kaohsiung harbour last Thursday (Feb 1).
Taipei Times, Taiwan's English-language newspaper reported, that the Kaohsiung Customs Administration Office found the pangolins without its scales and its organs dismembered when the shipping company failed to return a shipping container to its original address.
The container was shipped from Malaysia to Kaohsiung on Dec 27, 2017, but had remained in an unloading bay, as the recipient of the cargo had not submitted its Customs form.
The report said that the recipient refused to accept the shipment which prompted the Customs office to inspect its contents.
It said the front section of the cargo contained frozen sardines as a cover for the pangolins which were kept at the back of the container.
The Customs office was quoted as saying that they had suspected that the recipient of the container was a shell company, as the ship's manifest was false.
The report claimed that the Customs office had suspected that the group behind the pangolin trafficking knew that the pangolins would be found and had hoped to swap it while the container was still in harbour.
However, it reported that the traffickers were unable to do so, and decided to return the container before making another attempt to smuggle the pangolins.
Due to the large number of dead pangolins, the Taipei Times said Taiwan was probably only a transshipment point as the main plan was to transfer the cargo to another ship intended for East Asia.
It said the cargo was "likely headed for China or Vietnam" where there was a demand for pangolin meat.
The report said that there was no big market for pangolin meat in Taiwan as the Taiwanese were aware that pangolins were a protected species and that it was illegal to consume its meat.