Confiscated smuggled pangolins

Rescued pangolins sold as food by rangers

Image: A newly born confiscated smuggled pangolin accompanied by its mother shortly after giving birth, in Bangkok, Thailand. Photograph: RUNGROJ YONGRIT/RUNGROJ YONGRIT/epa/Corbis

How such deliberate cruelty can be handled – and more importantly – prevented in the future? What has to be done to get the message through to these people that the targets of their delicacy are living creatures with feelings?

14 thoughts on “Rescued pangolins sold as food by rangers

  1. Venkatasamy Rama Krishna

    Not surprising at all Janos. In countries where corruption exists at all levels and within all institutions this is what usually happens. We have heard how elephant tusks seized from poachers have been later sold by the police or customs officers, and I am personally aware of how marijuana plants uprooted from private lands later find their way into the open market.
    Some say it is because of poverty, others because of greed, but I say it has become a deeply ingrained culture within the culture of greed which prevails at many levels, in many countries, and in many different ways.

  2. Janos Post author

    The Guardian news says these were Sunda Pangolins or Malayan Pangolins. According to IUCN Red List, humans are especially successful in eradicating this species throughout South-East Asia. The first Red List assessment in 1996 categorized them as Near Threatened, the next one in 2008 found moved them into higher risk category of Endangered and the last assessment in 2013 moved them an even higher risk category of Critically Endangered A2d+3d+4d. Here is the short justification from IUCN Red List web site:

    “This species is listed as Critically Endangered A2d+3d+4d due to high levels of hunting and poaching for its meat and scales, which is primarily driven by exports to China, though local consumption and utilisation also take place across the species’ range. There have been suspected declines of 80% over the next 21 years, with the intensity of hunting having moved into the southern parts of the species’ range.”

    If this goes on, the next assessment due in 2020 will find them Extinct in the Wild.

  3. Janos Post author

    A quote from the article: “In fact, the animals? meat, blood, and other products are enjoyed only by the wealthy, as an edible token of status and success. Challender [Dan Challender, co-chair on the IUCN?s Pangolin Specialist Group] has observed moneyed restaurant patrons paying up to $700 for just two kilograms of the meat. ?In some restaurants it can be the most expensive meat on the menu.? Dining on the animal can also be a theatrical?and deeply morbid?affair. ?I?ve seen it happen. They will club the pangolin until it?s unconscious and then they they will cut its throat with some scissors,? Challender recounts. For wealthy patrons wanting to display their status, buying this expensive wild meat is a sure way to do it, he says.”

    1. Michael White

      It’s a similar story for the sharkfin soup. Dedicated restaurants just selling shark food. I photographed 3 together in Bangkok. Reading your post on ivory I see that it is the rising ‘middle class’ driving much of that impact too.

      That is quite easy to understand too: the wealthy have little need to flaunt their well-being, it’s just how they live. Those who are aspiring to elevate their class status think that if they do this or that, then they will be seen as being ‘upper class’. They won’t be, and will still be looked down upon by those who are the highest. E.g. aristocracy will still see them as peasants acting above their station! This pattern has unfolded over centuries in Britain ~ so we know the storyline. I imagine Krishnan will tell us similar tales from the caste system in India. Mike

      1. Janos Post author

        You know Mike, I don’t have problem too much with those who mimic being richer than they really are. The whole culture probably in every civilization, and the consumerism, enjoy this human characteristic as solid foundation. But such kind of brutality described by the above writing really makes my stomach turning out. I think that hyenas can be considered better even when they tear up a living animal, because they have no other option to feed themselves.

        1. Michael White

          Humans are not a very nice species Janos, we can be, but we do indeed have a very dark side to our nature (genocide, war, atrocities etc.).

          You actually awaken a much wider issue: that of kosher & halal food. Both religions say the animals have to have their throats cut while alive; the westernised world prefers stunning before killing them. 🙁

  4. Michael White

    In particular :::
    “The objective of the symposium ?Beyond enforcement: Communities, governance, incentives and sustainable use in combating wildlife crime?, was to identify ways to engage those communities living side by side with the world?s wildlife, to protect key species targeted by the illegal trade while securing their own futures. “

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