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171 pangolins bound for Thailand seized


RM340,000 DELICACY: Police detain 5 and seize two vehicles

KOTA BARU: STATE police prevented 171 pangolins worth  RM340,000 from ending up in cooking pots in Thailand with the arrest of five men on Saturday.

The men, aged between 30 and 45, were detained in two operations in Jeli and Bachok.

Police said in Jeli, they detained two men at a roadblock near the Mara Junior Science College at 4am and seized 16 pangolins from them.

They also seized the four-wheel-drive vehicle the duo were in.

Some 20 hours later, another police team in Bachok seized 155 pangolins packed into nets from three men while they were at an unnumbered house in Kampung Alur Tok Majan.

Another 4WD vehicle was also seized here.

The pangolins (manis javanica) and the five local men were later handed over to the state Wildlife and National Parks Department.

Department assistant officer Cosmas Ngau said the pangolins were believed to have been brought into Kelantan from other states several hours before they were seized.

"We believe the pangolins were being smuggled to Thailand separately through Bukit Kayu Hitam in Kedah and Rantau Panjang."

Ngau said pangolin flesh, popular as a delicacy and for its perceived "health benefits" could fetch up to RM350 and RM380 per kg on the black market.

He said the seizure in Bachok was the biggest over the past five years.

"One of the pangolins seized in Bachok is also the biggest seized by us so far. The male pangolin weighed 10kg."

The rare ant-eating animal feeds a mainly Asian market, where pangolins are eaten as delicacies and their scales sought after for various remedies.

Pangolin scales are made chiefly of keratin, a substance believed to have curative value in traditional Asian medicine despite scientific evidence to the contrary.

Kelantan Wildlife and National Parks Department assistant officer Cosmas Ngau (right) and colleague Mohamad Daud with some of the pangolins seized from smugglers near the border. Pic by Adnan Mohamad

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