S$51.6 million worth of scales from 21,000 dead pangolins seized, 2nd massive haul in a week

The scales weighed 12.7 tonnes this time, only slightly less than the first haul.

Ashley Tan| April 10, 09:58 PM

Less than a week after a record-breaking haul of pangolin scales was discovered here, another shipment was detected passing through Singapore.

On April 3, 2019, a record-breaking 12.9 tonnes of pangolin scales disguised as frozen beef were seized at Pasir Panjang Export Inspection Station.

The scales were worth S$52.3 million.

Not more than five days later on April 8, a second shipment of pangolin scales was detected at Pasir Panjang again.

Worth another S$51.6 million

According to The Straits Times, the scales were detected in a 40-foot container, following a joint operation by the National Parks Board (NParks), Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and Singapore Customs.

Similar to the first haul, the container originated from Nigeria and was bound for Vietnam, but this time, the scales were declared as cassia seeds.

In reality, the container held 474 bags of pangolin scales.

Photo by NParks via Singapore Customs, Facebook

Photo by NParks via Singapore Customs, Facebook

The scales are estimated to be worth S$51.6 million and weigh 12.7 tonnes, according to a Facebook post by Singapore Customs.

This makes for a total of 25.6 tonnes of pangolin scales seized in less than a week in Singapore.

According to ST, this weight is 58 times greater than the weight of the total amount of pangolin scales seized in 2015 and 2016 combined, which only amounted to 440kg.

21,000 pangolins killed

The authorities estimate that 21,000 pangolins were killed for the amount of scales in the April 8 shipment.

The scales are from two species of pangolins, the giant ground pangolin and the white-bellied tree pangolin, both of which are classified as vulnerable by the International Union of Conservation for Nature (IUCN).

The haul from April 3 also contained scales from these two species.

Photo by NParks via Singapore Customs, Facebook

Photo by NParks via Singapore Customs, Facebook

Pangolins are world's most trafficked animal

Pangolins are the world's most highly trafficked animal due to their use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

This is despite scant evidence proving that their scales contain medicinal value. Pangolin scales are made of keratin, the same material in human hair and fingernails.

Under the Endangered Species (Import & Export) Act, the maximum penalty for illegal import, export and re-export of wildlife is a fine of up to S$500,000 and/ or two years of imprisonment.

Currently, investigations into the second haul of pangolin scales are ongoing.

You can read the original Facebook post by the Singapore Customs here:

Top photo from Singapore Customs, Facebook