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Earlier this week, we reported that 1.4 tons of pangolin scales (from as many as 10,000 animals) had been confiscated from a shipping container entering Vietnam from Sierra Leone. The increase of cases involving African species of pangolins is thought to be due to the rapidly decreasing numbers of Asian pangolins. Now, the IUCN Red List, which documents the threat levels to species around the world, has upgraded both of Vietnam’s native pangolin species from “Endangered” to “Critically Endangered”.
The Sunda and Chinese pangolins are hunted and trafficked by the ton to meet the escalating demand for their meat and scales as food and traditional medicine.
As well as the Sierra Leone case, 2 other cases of pangolin trafficking were exposed in Vietnam this week: on July 26th, police arrested a cab driver for trafficking 20 pangolins from the south to the north of the country; and on July 29th, 49 pangolins were discovered in a local house in Quang Ninh province.
If drastic measures are not taken, it is certain that pangolins in Vietnam will follow the path of the Javan rhino – extinction.