China in big­gest-ever pan­golin scale seizure

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

SHANG­HAI: Chi­nese cus­toms seized over three tons of pan­golin scales, state me­dia said, in the coun­try’s big­gest-ever smug­gling case in­volv­ing the an­i­mal parts. Shang­hai Cus­toms found around 3.1 tons of pan­golin scales mixed in with a con­tainer of wood prod­ucts im­ported from Nige­ria, re­ported Tues­day. It es­ti­mated up to 7,500 of the creatures could have been killed. The reclu­sive pan­golin has be­come the most traf­ficked mam­mal on Earth due to soar­ing de­mand in Asia for their scales for tra­di­tional medicine and their flesh, con­sid­ered a del­i­cacy.

State me­dia have pre­vi­ously said the scales fetch around 5,000 Yuan ($700) per kilo­gram ($700) on the black mar­ket-which would make the seizure worth more than $2 mil­lion. Al­though the in­ter­na­tional pan­golin trade is il­le­gal in China and they are listed as one of the most-pro­tected wild an­i­mals, law en­force­ment re­mains weak. Pan­golins are also farmed in the coun­try and an on­line site sell­ing tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine of­fers them at 7,000 Yuan per kilo­gram.

The scales are noth­ing more than ker­atin, the same sub­stance that makes up fin­ger­nails. Yet it has been falsely touted as a cure for mul­ti­ple ail­ments, in­clud­ing cancer, among some prac­ti­tion­ers of tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine. Shang­hai Cus­toms ar­rested three sus­pects who were sus­pected of smug­gling the scales from Africa since 2015, the re­port said. —

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