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Second largest pangolin seizure in 5 days; combined haul of 25.6 tonnes

SINGAPORE — Just five days after seizing a record 12.9 tonnes of pangolin scales, the authorities on Monday (April 8) seized another shipment of a similar volume — 12.7 tonnes — that was also on its way from Nigeria to Vietnam.

Among the scales seized were those of the Smutsia Gigantea or Giant Ground Pangolin.

Among the scales seized were those of the Smutsia Gigantea or Giant Ground Pangolin.

SINGAPORE — Just five days after seizing a record 12.9 tonnes of pangolin scales, the authorities on Monday (April 8) confiscated another shipment of a similar volume — 12.7 tonnes — that was also on its way from Nigeria to Vietnam.

The combined amount of trafficked pangolin scales seized this month is a staggering 25.6 tonnes.

The latest haul was hidden in a 40-foot container and declared to contain cassia seeds, said the National Parks Board (NParks), Singapore Customs and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority in a statement on Wednesday.

When inspected, officers discovered pangolin scales taken from around 21,000 pangolins packed in 474 bags. They are worth about US$38.1 million (S$51.6 million), the agencies said.

12.7 tonnes of pangolin scales packed into 474 gunny sacks were seized on 8 Apr 2019 in Singapore. Photo: NParks

The scales seized on Monday are from two species that are native to Africa — the White-bellied Tree Pangolin and the Giant Ground Pangolin. Both are listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The scales seized last week also came from these two species, along with scales from Black-bellied Tree Pangolin and Temminck’s Ground Pangolin.

Before this month, Singapore’s two previous seizures of pangolin scales took place in 2015 and 2016 and amounted to 440kg.

The previous largest known seizure of pangolin scales was in China, where nearly 12 tonnes were seized in 2017.

Under a global agreement called the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, international trade in pangolin is banned.

Under Singapore’s Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, those who illegally import, export and re-export wildlife can be fined up to S$500,000 and jailed for up to two years.

The same penalties apply to transit or transshipment of illegal wildlife species, including their parts and derivatives.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Pangolins are solitary and primarily nocturnal animals.

  • There are eight pangolin species in the world found on two continents.

  • Singapore is home to the critically endangered Sunda Pangolin, which lives in various forested areas, but mainly in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

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