Singapore has seized more than 14 tons of pangolin scales worth an estimated $38.7 million in what authorities are calling one of the largest such shipments ever intercepted. Custom officials said they inspected a 40-foot container that originated in Nigeria and was labeled as "frozen beef", before uncovering 230 bags inside it. In a joint statement, Singapore
Customs and the National Parks Board said that "this is the largest shipment of pangolin scales seized in a single haul globally in recent years".
The grim discovery is the latest setback for the pangolin which has been labeled one of the world's most trafficked
animals. The small, nocturnal mammal lives in both Africa and Asia and is trafficked for its meat and scales. Even though there is an international ban on the trade of pangolins, illegal trafficking is rife due to beliefs in parts of East Asia that their ground-up scales can stimulate lactation or cure diseases such as cancer.
The most recent trafficking data
published by the United Nations Office on Drugs an Crime refers to the period from 2005 to 2015. During that decade, Indonesia was the top source country for pangolins seized with 13,462 recorded. China was the top destination country with more than 33,000 animals intercepted.