PETALING JAYA: Wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic has urged Taiwan and Malaysia to get to the bottom of the 4,000 butchered pangolins found in a cargo container at Taiwan’s Kaohsiung harbour.
“While large-scale seizures are great, it must be followed by arrests and prosecution for an impact to be made on the illegal trade,” said Traffic South-East Asia senior communications officer Elizabeth John.
Taiwanese Customs found 4,000 dead pangolins shipped from Malaysia in a cargo container at Kaohsiung harbour last Thursday.
English-language newspaper Taipei Times reported that the Kaohsiung Customs administration office found the pangolins without scales or organs when the shipping company failed to return the container to its original address.
The container was shipped from Malaysia to Kaohsiung on Dec 27, but remained in an unloading bay because the recipient did not submit a Customs form.
The recipient refused to accept the shipment, prompting the Customs office to inspect the container.
Frozen sardines were stacked in the front section of the container to conceal the pangolins at the back.
The Customs office suspected that the recipient was a shell company, as the ship’s manifest was false.
Meanwhile, John urged Malaysian authorities to investigate if the seizure in Taiwan is connected with the large-scale African pangolin seizures in Malaysia last year.
Between May and August 2017, there were six confirmed seizures of African pangolin scales in Malaysia, totalling 6,695kg.
All species of pangolins are under threat and protected under national and international laws.
Pangolin meat is a delicacy in China, Vietnam and Africa, while their scales are used in traditional medicine.