81 Rare Pangolins Caught Up In The Illegal Wildlife Trade

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http://www.scienceofwonder.org/81-rare-pangolins-caught-up-in-the-illegal-wildlife-trade/

Theres a chance youve never even heard of them,butpangolins are one of the most illegally tradedanimals on the planet.

A couple of weeks ago, officials in Laos arrested a man who was attempting to smuggle 81 Sunda pangolins across the border between Thailand and Laos. The armored mammals were wrapped in small sacks and then packed into crates.

LaoWildlife Rescue and the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) rescued and rehabilitated the pangolins. Last week, 48 of the pangolins were healthy and fit enough to be returned to the wild. Unfortunately, 17 of the smuggled animalsdied.

Image credit:Lao Wildlife Rescue Centre/WFFT

It is believed that this shipment of pangolins originated from Sumatra,Indonesia, and was destined for China, where these highly endangered wild animals would be eaten by the rich and corrupted, while their scales would be used as traditional Chinese medicine, the WFFT said in a statement.

There are eight species of pangolins, all of which are listed as threatened under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Half of these species live in Africa and the rest are spread across Southeast Asia.

Despite their rarity, the trade of these animals is expected to be worth around 12.5 billion ($19 billion)annually. Since the 1990s, the price for a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of pangolin scales has surged from 8.50 to330 ($13 to $500).

Image credit:Lao Wildlife Rescue Centre/WFFT

Source: Array

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