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On April 24, 2017, Officers of Suvarnabhumi Airport Wildlife Checkpoint reported an arrest on a Filipino suspect. The 55 years old Danilo Alano Trinidad was in midst of illegally transporting 5 Marmosets Monkeys, a rabbits of unspecified breed, and an African Tortoise. The suspect is under charges of “Exporting government-protected wildlife with permission and transporting banned product out of the kingdom without going through proper custom channels”. The following is considered to be a transgression of Act 27, 16, and 17 of Customs Act, Act 23 and 24 of the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, and lastly Act 31 of the Animal Epidemic Act.

The arrest was made in early afternoon of April 24, 2017 at the Suvarnabhumi Airport building. According to airport security staffs, they were inspecting records of passenger’s baggage when they found what seemed to be a tortoise inside one bag. The suspect was departing for Manila on the Thai Airways plane fight. They notified related task force of their discovery and asked for the assistance of Thai Airways in tracking down the owner of the baggage. They managed to track down the suspect as he was boarding the flight and upon stopping him for inspection, they managed to confirm the existence of the tortoise in the bag. The officers in charge of arrest then swept the nearby vicinity for further clues when they found the baby monkeys and rabbit hidden away in a bathroom nearby the flight departure gate. Officers hypostasized that the animals were left for the suspect to collect at a more convenient time when securities were more lax before the flight departed for Manila. The animals were taken under the care of the airport officers as evidence for further legal actions by the Suvarnabhumi Airport Wildlife Checkpoint officers.

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Police in the northern province of Hoa Binh on Wednesday seized 118 pangolins smuggled in a car during a long chase that ended with the police shooting two of the car’s tires.

Officers were chasing after the car for dozens of kilometers after it had refused to stop for a check on Wednesday night, the police said in a statement.

The car subsequently crashed into a motorbike and a parked car, causing slight damage to both vehicles.

The police said they decided to shoot one of the car’s tires after the driver did not stop at a warning shot. He only stopped after two tires of the car were shot flat.

Two men then got out of the car to run away. Police have arrested the driver and are still looking for the other.

A total of 118 pangolins, weighing more than 550 kilograms, were found tied in bags. Five of them were already dead.

Vietnam is home to Javan and Chinese pangolin species, both of which are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as critically endangered, and their populations have fallen rapidly in recent years.

The defenseless anteaters are the biggest victim of wildlife trafficking as their meat is considered a delicacy by some while their scales are used to make boots and shoes. Many also believe that the scales can be used as an effective treat for conditions such as psoriasis and poor circulation in traditional Chinese medicine, despite the lack of scientific evidence.

Education for Nature-Vietnam, one of Vietnam’s few locally based conservation groups, said that the country is a transit point for pangolin trafficking networks.

Hanoi customs on Tuesday found two shipments full of pangolin scales sent to Noi Bai Airport from Ghana. In early March, a shipment from Cameroon to Noi Bai was also found to contain 375 kilograms of pangolin scales.

AFP said in a recent report that around one million pangolins have been poached from Asian and African forests over the past decade, putting them on the list of species at the highest risk of extinction.

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The car chase that ensued on a major road in Vietnam led to an unexpected discovery: a load of 118 critically endangered pangolins weighing 556kg.

Local police in the province of Ha Tinh knew something was amiss when the driver of a minivan refused to stop for a routine inspection at a traffic police checkpoint. Instead, the driver barreled through it, damaging two police vehicles. The officers gave chase and shot the tires of the car. Two wildlife traffickers escaped from the van, but the driver was apprehended.

That’s when officers, while inspecting the vehicle, discovered 118 critically endangered pangolins wrapped up tightly in bags and piled on top of each other. The animals had had no access to food or water, but 113 of them had managed to survive and are now being looked after by staffers of the conservationist group Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, who will release them back into the wild.

This time the animals were lucky. Many of them were still alive when they were accidentally discovered by law enforcement officials. Only recently, a large haul of pangolin scales, weighing 357kg, was discovered at a Vietnamese airport, in yet another case of rampant wildlife trafficking that has been driving all eight subspecies of pangolins ever closer to the verge of extinction across the wild in Africa and Asia.

In just one decade, some 1 million pangolins have been poached and sold for their meat and scales with a shocking 100,000 of them done so every single year. Vietnam has served as a major transit hub for the illegal trade in the animals. Over the past decade authorities in Vietnam have seized 54.8 tons of pangolins and 14.7 tons of scales. Meanwhile, populations of Sunda pangolins, which also inhabit some of Malaysia’s forests, have plummeted by around 80% in recent years.

Pangolins, the world’s “most trafficked mammals,” are highly sought as ingredients in Chinese medicine and as meat in exotic dishes across much of Southeast Asia. Recently the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has voted to issue a total ban on the sale of all eight pangolin subspecies from Asia to Africa.

We must all must remain vigilant and step up the war on poaching and trafficking everywhere.

Copyright © 2017 ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network. All Rights Reserved.

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