By Shreya Dasgupta
Pangolin—the world’s most trafficked mammal—continues to be killed in huge numbers.
On Wednesday, Chinese customs officials announced that they had seized more than three metric tons (3,000 kilograms or 6,600 pounds) of pangolin scales in Shanghai. This is the country’s largest-ever smuggling case involving pangolin parts, officials reportedly said.
Customs officials discovered the massive amount of scales on Dec. 10, 2016. The scales had been packed in 101 bags concealed within a timber consignment imported from Africa. Some 5,000 to 7,500 wild pangolins are estimated to have been killed for these scales, officials told ShanghaiDaily.com.
Three people have been arrested so far, and the case is still under investigation according to South China Morning Post.
Customs finds 3 tons of pangolin scales https://t.co/7NvHCd1nMf
— Shanghai Daily (@shanghaidaily) 1482898664.0
Pangolins use their scaly armor to protect themselves. Unfortunately, these protective scales have become the very reason for their population collapse.
Today, eight species of pangolins survive, four each in Asia and Africa. All four Asian species are on the verge of extinction, while the African species are moving towards a similar fate, thanks to rising demand for pangolin meat and scales in China.
Although pangolin scales are made of keratin, just like…