Sad news from Hong Kong was revealed recently after the Tsing Yi customs cargo examination compound came across a 40 foot container which the manifest claimed contained more than 880 bags of plastic raw materials.
Tragically, the customs agents discovered that the large container was actually carrying 7 tonnes of scales from critically endangered pangolins, which was in route from Nigeria to Hong Kong.
The shipment had an estimated market value of HK$3.55 million (US$450,000) making it the second largest seizure of its kind in a decade.
According to The South China Morning Post, the biggest recent seizure that was also found in a container from Nigeria, contained 7.2 tonnes of pangolin scales, which was discovered in May of 2017.
Regarding the recent shipment discovered last week, a law enforcement source said, “A total of 284 bags carrying suspected pangolin scales were found in the container.” He also mentioned that the shipment was en route for Guangdong province and that it was possible the scales would be used in Chinese medicine.
According to World Wildlife Fund, Pangolins continue to be the most trafficked mammals in Asia and increasingly, in Africa. Their meat is considered a delicacy and their scales are used in traditional medicine in countries like China and Vietnam.
It’s infuriating that these beautiful and shy creatures continue to be killed even though their species are protected under national and international laws. What is even more heartbreaking is that in recent years, the illegal trade in pangolins have actually increased due to growing demand.
In Hong Kong, importing or exporting undeclared cargo carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment and a HK$2 million fine.
Any person found guilty of importing an endangered species without a license is liable to a maximum fine of HK$10 million ($1.3 million) and imprisonment for 10 years, under Hong Kong’s “Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance.”
The department said no one has been arrested and the investigation was still under way.