CHIANG RAI – On Wednesday morning Authorities in Chiang Rai’s Wiang Kaen District rescued approximately 40 live pangolins, that were smuggled in 10 sacks in a boat across the Mekong River, destined for restaurants and medicine shops. The Pangolins were said to worth at least Bt615,000.
Navy Captain Wuthichai Phucharoenyot, chief of Chiang Rai-based Mekong patrol unit said that the unidentified boatman, who attempting to smuggle the protected species from Laos into Thailand’s Ban Chaem Pong border point in Tambon Lai Ngao, escaped capture by swimming away in the darkness.
Thailand wildlife officials said that the smuggling of pangolins is a violation of the Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act 1992, punishable with up to Bt40,000 in fines and four years in jail.
The case was passed onto the police to investigate further to identify the boat owner and arrest those involved.
The Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica), also known as the Malayan or Javan pangolin is found throughout Southeast Asia, including Brunei, Cambodia, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, the Lesser Sunda Islands, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam
Pangolins as a genus are among the most heavily poached and exploited protected animals. Like other pangolin species, the Sunda pangolin is hunted for its skin, scales, and meat, used in clothing manufacture and traditional medicine.
Their scales are made into rings as charms against rheumatic fever, and meat is considered a delicacy by some people. Despite enjoying protected status almost everywhere in its range, illegal international trade, largely driven by Chinese buyers, has led to rapidly decreasing population numbers.
The Sunda pangolin is currently considered to be critically endangered
By Natthawat Laping