Animals In Danger
All animals should be protected, but sadly, they aren’t. Certain animals have overpopulated the areas where they live, such as hippos in Columbia. These animals are not protected. There are other species who are always in danger from other animals and humans. These animals need all of the help that they can get to keep from becoming extinct.
When a cargo container arrived in Yantian District’s port in China, it raised red flags. It arrived through unconventional channels without the proper paperwork. The officials were told that the container was empty, which they didn’t believe. The officials were from the Dapeng Customs Anti-Smuggling Branch, and they didn’t believe this story. Why would someone spend the money to ship an empty container? It was their job to inspect the container to see what was inside.
Inside the Container
When the officials broke the lock on the shipping container, they found that it was filled to the top with blue and red striped bags. When they opened one of the bags, they noticed that it was filled with coal. If the container held coal, why would the sender be keeping it a secret? Shipping coal isn’t illegal; therefore they knew that there was still something going on.
A Closer Look
When the investigators pulled out each sack, they cut into them. When they got to the middle of the pile, they found something. There was a horrible smell of decay. They stopped cutting into the bags immediately for their health and their safety. They called in quarantine officers to supervise while they unpacked the rest of the sacks. It was then that they found something that made them sick. Police break open this shipping crate and the stench immediately tells them something’s wrong.
The investigators found pangolin scales in the bags. Pangolins are the most poached animals in the world. They are similar to armadillos. They were once considered an endangered species. These animals are covered with scales, and they are adorable. When they discovered the scales, they found that the bags contained 13.1 tons of pangolin scales. This was the largest bust of illegal pangolin byproducts ever found by Chinese officials in history. It is believed that the entire haul came from over 30,000 pangolins. They knew that they had to catch the people responsible for keeping this from ever happening again.
When a pangolin feels threatened or scared, they roll up in a ball. This behavior makes it easy for traffickers to scoop them up and sell them.
Why Are Pangolin Scales In Demand
Pangolin scales are often used in Chinese medicine. There is no scientific evidence to back up the benefits; however, the Chinese people believe that ingesting the scales can cure a number of illnesses such as arthritis, asthma, and cancer. They think of the scales as a wonder drug. Some people believe that the animal’s meat has healing effects.
Pangolins have been granted protection by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. This hasn’t stopped people from poaching the animals. Neither has the 10-year prison sentence that a person can get if they are caught. The investigators didn’t have much to work with. All they had to go on was the name on the shipping form, and it only read, “XIA x HUA.” They needed another lead, so they called in a team of investigators who were dedicated to shutting down smuggling operations. They discovered the scales as coming from Africa. They had the shipment name and location, which helped them narrow down the list of suspects. After narrowing down the suspect list, they were finally able to arrest two men. He and Li.
Li is a well-known smuggler who evaded capture for years. He denied having anything to do with the scales. When the investigators found photos on his cell phone, he claimed that they must have been taken by the phone’s previous owner. If Li could prove that he bought the phone secondhand, they wouldn’t be able to hold him. Fortunately, Li made a mistake. When the took the photos, he got his foot in the shot, and he has a mole on his foot. He and Li had been partners for a while. They made over $758,000 smuggling together. The two men were arrested.
Even though He and Li were put in prison, animal smuggling continues to be an issue. Fortunately, steps are always being taken to prevent smuggling. According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, more needs to be done. It is the only way to prevent the extinction of the animals in our world. Even though we cannot stop people from wanting to smuggle, we can catch them in the act.