Seized pangolins to be released into the wild

Posted on February 26, 2011. Filed under: Bio-diversity |

-The Star-

GEORGE TOWN: A court order has been obtained to release into the forest the 135 pangolins that were recently seized by the Penang Wildlife and National Parks Depart­ment (Perhilitan).

The department obtained from a magistrate’s court in Butterworth the order to release the seized mammals worth RM100,000.

The pangolins were taken to court in three four-wheel drive vehicles from the department’s office here.

On Thursday, Perhilitan scored its biggest seizure of pangolins and arrested two men who were caught moving the animals in cages into two modified cars in Sungai Dua, Butterworth.

Going home soon: A Perhilitan enforcement officer holding on to one of the seized pangolins at the court in Butterworth yesterday.

The duo were believed to be members of an illegal wildlife trade syndicate which brought in pangolins from other states and smuggled them out to neighbouring countries.

It is learnt that the pangolins, weighing between 5kg and 7kg, could fetch up to RM200 per kg. Even their scales could fetch a high price for their medicinal value.

Despite being toothless, they devour ants, termites and other insects using unusually long, sticky tongues, and are able to quickly roll themselves up into a tight ball when threatened.

Due to difficulties in getting ants and termites, Perhilitan had bought a few bags of worms to feed the 135 pangolins housed in several cages at its Jalan Gurdwara compound here.

The scaly anteaters are said to be consuming about RM15 worth of worms every evening during their brief captivity.

“We have a problem looking for ants and termites as these are not for sale,” said state Perhilitan director Jamalun Nasir Ibrahim, adding that tracking chips would be put on some of the mammals for future identification and tracking purposes.

Penang Chinese Medicine Hall Association chairman Yeong Sen Yong said pangolin meat was believed to have an aphrodisiac effect.

“As for the (tough, overlapping) scales, they are said to be antipyretic (quelling fever) and detoxifying,” he added.

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