The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
28 Tons of Trafficked Pangolin Scales Seized in Singapore
The National Parks Board, Singapore Customs and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority found 14.2 tons of pangolin scales in a beef shipment April 3, on its own a record-breaking haul. Then, on April 8, they found an additional 14 tons in 474 bags. That makes a total of more than 28 tons coming from more than 38,000 of the endangered mammals, the Associated Press reported.
"The Singapore Government adopts a zero-tolerance stance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species and their parts and derivatives," the agencies wrote in a joint press release Wednesday. "Our agencies will continue to collaborate and maintain vigilance to tackle the illegal wildlife trade."
The most recent haul was found on a container bound from Nigeria to Vietnam, the agencies said. The container originally said it was carrying cassia seeds, but authorities found $38.1 million worth of scales belonging to two species. In total, the scales found over the five-day period belonged to four different African species of pangolin, the Associated Press reported.
The April 3 haul was also found on a boat traveling from Nigeria to Vietnam. In addition to $52.3 million worth of scales, authorities found 177 kilograms (approximately 390.2 pounds) of carved elephant ivory, The Straits Times reported.
Pangolin scales are valued for their use in traditional Chinese medicine, despite not having any proven health benefits. The meat is also considered a delicacy in some countries.
Before this week's discoveries, the largest intercepted pangolin shipment was 12 tonnes (approximately 13.2 tons) in China in 2017. Singapore had previously apprehended 440 kilograms (approximately 970 pounds) in 2015 and 2016.
"The sheer size of these two latest seizures is unprecedented and will undoubtedly prove a major setback to the traffickers concerned," Richard Thomas of wildlife trade specialist group TRAFFIC told the Associated Press. However, he cautioned that seizures would not disable the trade, and that the number of scales found indicates an "industrial scale" operation.
Pangolin Specialist Group official Paul Thomson told The Associated Press that pangolin trafficking seemed to be increasing, but this has had an unintended consequence."The illegal trade in pangolin parts has been going on for decades. However, pangolins have typically been overlooked in terms of concerted conservation attention and action," Thomson said. "This is changing thanks to growing awareness of pangolins. And this awareness has partly been driven by the high volumes of trafficking seen today."
- Meet the 'Pangolin Men' Saving the World's Most Trafficked Mammal ... ›
- 10 Facts About Pangolins on World Pangolin Day - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Ajit Niranjan
Two main risk factors are currently known to raise the chance of dying from the novel coronavirus that has brought the world to a halt: being old and having a weak immune system.
Air pollution makes the second of those more likely.
By Jennifer Cheavens and David Cregg
The world is currently in the midst of a pandemic where the most useful thing many of us can do is stay at home and keep away from others. Schools, restaurants, office buildings and movie theaters are closed. Many people are feeling disoriented, disconnected and scared.
By Liz Carlisle
This opinion piece was originally published by Yes! Magazine on March 30, 2020.
As the coronavirus crisis has laid bare, the U.S. urgently needs a strategic plan for farmland. The very lands we need to ensure community food security and resilience in the face of crises like this pandemic and climate change are currently being paved over, planted to chemically raised feed grains for factory farm animals, and acquired by institutional investors and speculators. For far too long, the fate of farmlands has flown under the radar of public dialogue—but a powerful new proposal from think tank Data for Progress lays out how a national strategic plan for farmland could help boost economic recovery while putting the U.S. on a path to carbon neutrality.
By Shawn Radcliffe
The CDC recommends that all people wear cloth face masks in public places where it's difficult to maintain a 6-foot distance from others. This will help slow the spread of the virus from people without symptoms or people who do not know they have contracted the virus. Cloth face masks should be worn while continuing to practice social distancing. Instructions for making masks at home can be found here. Note: It's critical to reserve surgical masks and N95 respirators for healthcare workers.