Friday, April 19, 2013

2000 pangolins discovered on Chinese fishing boat aground in the Philipines

April 2013. A Chinese fishing vessel, the 48-metre long F/N Min Long Yu that ran aground on the Philippines World Heritage Tubbataha Reefs on 8 April 2013, was found to be carrying several hundred boxes of pangolins. Having run aground in the World Heritage Tubbataha Reefs Natural Marine Park. park rangers and the Philippine Coast Guard searched the vessel and found about 400 boxes containing illegally-traded pangolins (scaly anteaters). Each box was estimated to contain from five to six dressed and rolled-up pangolins, which means the vessel was carrying as many as 2000 of the toothless, insect-eating creatures. Resembling sloth-like olive lizards, pangolins are scaly 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 World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines (WWF-Philippines) strongly condemns this latest act of wildlife trafficking. WWF-Philippines Vice-chair and CEO Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, said "It is bad enough that these fishermen have illegally entered our seas, navigated without boat papers and crashed recklessly into a national marine park and World Heritage Site. It is simply deplorable that they appear to be posing as fishermen to trade in illegal wildlife. Should the carcasses turn out to be Philippine pangolins (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."

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