Critically Endangered Pangolins Were Rescued, Then Sold As Food To Local Restaurants

Pangolin Featured

Presently, one of the rarest animals living today is the pangolin. Found throughout Africa and Asia, the pangolin (also known as the scaly anteater or trenggiling) is so critically endangered, all eight species are categorized on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as threatened with extinction. Despite this fact, pangolins are usually hunted for their scales, skin, and meat. The Inquisitr previously reported on a story where their meat was found on a Chinese boat, indicating either import or exportation.

Now, the recent news on pangolins is that police saved 42 of them from poachers. However, the pangolins taken in by forest rangers were then sold to local restaurants.

According to Thanhmien News, police authorities seized the 42 pangolins from poachers in the northern province of Bac Ninh in Vietnam. On February 1, the endangered animals were handed off to forest rangers. After asking the poachers to pay fines, the officials of the province sold the pangolins at the street price of VND 1.2 million a kilogram. That is about $56 USD. All in all, the pangolins weighed a total of 201 kilograms which brought the province around the equivalent of $11,300 USD.

Local conservationist groups, including members of the Education for Nature-Vietnam in Hanoi, have harshly criticized the province officials’ decision, branding it a “failure” in deterring wildlife trade. They said that by selling the pangolins, the authorities became “a link” in sanctioning illegal wildlife trade. Nguyen Thi Phuong Dung, the deputy director of Education of Nature-Vietnam, made it clear that anyone who breaks laws that protect animals should be treated like criminals.

“Any violations regarding the animals should receive criminal punishment. We also can’t treat them simply as evidence of a crime and then trade them.”

Pangolin Scales

To be clear, the province officials are breaking the law. According to a follow-up by The Guardian, it was legal for registered traders or government authorities to auction off some pangolins, especially those seized by poachers. That changed in November of 2013, when a new law completely ruled out hunting, trading, and consumption of any of Asia’s four pangolin species. Dan Challender, co-chair on the IUCN’s Pangolin Specialist Group, states the animals are afforded the highest degree of protection.

It is not clear whether it is negligence or cash that motivated the forest rangers to trade with local restaurants. Dan Challender does believe corruption is involved.

“It’s difficult to say without having specific details whether the forest rangers just weren’t aware of the new law. But one can make the assumption that rangers were likely aware of the new legislation, so this could well be corruption.”

Now that you’ve read about the supposed corrupt sale of endangered and near-extinction pangolins to local restaurants, what are your views? Do you agree with Nguyen Thi Phuong Dung that violators of laws placed to protect pangolins (or any animal for that matter) should be treated like criminals?

[Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons, Post Image via Alex Hofford/EPA]