More than 10,000 kilograms of frozen pangolin or scaly anteater meat has been found in the cargo hold of a Chinese boat, “F/N Min Long Yu” after it crashed into coral reef. The boat was crashed at a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, Tubbataha National Marine Park on 8th April. In an inspection on Saturday, 400 boxes of frozen pangolin meat were found in the boat. Every box contained 25-30kg of meat. There were about 2,000 pangolins wrapped in plastic individually after removing their scales and kept inside the sacks.
Up till now, it is unclear which Asian pangolin species the poachers were transporting. There are four Asian pangolin species in which the Sunda/Malayan pangolin and the Chinese pangolin species listed as rare by the IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature). Since 2002, there is an international ban on trade of all the four Asian pangolin species but illegal trade continues. In China, there is a huge demand of pangolins as their meat is known as a delicacy and scales are supposed to contain medicinal qualities.
The 12 Chinese crewmen are being arrested on charges of poaching, attempted robbery and various violations of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act. More charges will be prepared against them such as damaging the corals violating the wildlife law of the country, trafficking in endangered pangolins and possessing pangolin meat. According to the Chinese crewmen, they entered Philippine waters from Malaysia accidentally.
For the poaching charge only, these crewmen can be sentenced up to 12 years of imprisonment and charged up to $300,000 (£196,000) of fines while for possessing pangolin meat, they can be sentenced up to 6 years of imprisonment and fined. Around 60,000 pangolins were killed in 2012 for the illegal trade.
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