Pangolins Seized from Chinese Vessel

The F/N Min Long Yu was carrying about 2000 dressed and rolled-up pangolins. Rising demand in China for pangolin meat and scales is wiping out the unique, toothless anteaters from their habitats in Southeast Asia. (TMO Archives)
About 400 boxes containing illegally-traded pangolins or scaly anteaters were seized from the F/V Min Long Yu, the same 48-meter Chinese fishing vessel which ran aground the Tubbataha Reefs last 8 April 2013.

Each box was estimated to contain from five to six dressed and rolled-up pangolins, which means the vessel could be carrying as many as 2000 of the toothless, insect-eating creatures.

Resembling large olive lizards, pangolins are actually scaled mammals which range throughout Asia and Africa. Eight species exist – all threatened by habitat loss plus the illegal trade for their meat and unique scales, which are used for both traditional medicine and the curio trade.

The grisly discovery was made by the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Marine Park Rangers and the Philippine Coast Guard last 13 April 2013. The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) is set to lodge legal action against the 12 Chinese fishermen, who are already facing poaching charges in violation of Republic Act No. 10067 for their illegal entry into the Tubbataha Reefs.

The World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines (WWF-Philippines) strongly condemns this latest act of wildlife trafficking.

“It is bad enough that these Chinese have illegally entered our seas, navigated without boat papers and crashed recklessly into a national marine park and World Heritage Site,” says WWF-Philippines Vice-chair and CEO Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan.

“However, it is simply deplorable that they appear to be posing as fishermen to trade in illegal wildlife. Should the carcasses check out as Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis), we can be sure they were being smuggled out of Palawan. In which case, the full force of the Philippine Wildlife Act should be applied.”

As the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora bad (CITES) prohibits trade in Asian pangolin species, WWF-Philippines calls on the government to fully prosecute the Chinese poachers for violating both national and international wildlife trade laws.

The Illegal Wildlife Trade

The latest seizure of pangolins from the F/N Min Long Yu comes right as the WWF global network is scaling up its campaign to combat the illegal wildlife trade, which now comprises the fourth largest illegal global trade after narcotics, counterfeiting of products and currency, and human trafficking.

The illegal wildlife trade, estimated to yield at least $19 Billion per year, has become a lucrative business for criminal syndicates because the risk involved is low compared with other crimes. Poaching syndicates flourish because there are presently no effective deterrents to the trade. High-level traders and kingpins are rarely arrested, prosecuted, and convicted for their crimes.

Today, pangolins are widely hunted and traded for their alleged medicinal properties. They are among the most commonly encountered mammals in Asia’s wildlife trade and alarming numbers have been seized throughout East and Southeast Asia in recent years.

WWF-Philippines encourages the public not to patronize products that may have come from species that are illegally traded.

Concludes Tan, “When the buying stops, the killing will, too.”
For more information:

Sophia Dedace
Communications Officer, WWF-Philippines
sdedace@wwf.org.ph

Gregg Yan
Communications and Media Manager, WWF-Philippines
gyan@wwf.org.ph