Highlighting the challenge in tackling the illicit trade of pangolins, TRAFFIC, a wildlife watchdog said on Thursday that nearly 900,000 pangolins are believed to have been trafficked across South-east Asia in the past two decades.
As the world's most heavily trafficked mammal, the creatures are targeted for their body parts, which are highly valued in traditional medicine in countries like China and Vietnam, where their meat is seen as a delicacy also, reports The Strait Times.
Pangolins – also known as the scaly anteater, are shy and primarily nocturnal animals with keratin scales. They have been heavily poached for years in biodiverse South-east Asia and are being increasingly targeted in Africa.
In a new report, watchdog TRAFFIC estimated that about 895,000 pangolins had been smuggled between 2000 and 2019 in South-east Asia.
It also noted that more than 96,000kg of the creatures' scales were seized in Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam between 2017 and 2019 alone.
"Not a day goes by without a wildlife seizure taking place in Southeast Asia, and all too often in volumes that are jaw dropping," said Kanitha Krishnasamy, director for Traffic in the region.
In 2016, the pangolin was given the highest level of protection by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, meaning that all trade in the mammal is banned. Prior to that, trade was allowed under strict conditions.