ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Customs has thwarted an attempt to smuggle 145 kg of pangolin scales from Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Islamabad to Hong Kong.
Customs staff at Islamabad’s International Airport confiscated the pangolin scales from the baggage of two suspected Chinese passengers departing for Hong Kong via flight. The Chinese passengers were allowed to proceed abroad after fulfilling formalities. The recovered pangolin scales have been seized for violation of the provisions of section 16 and 139 of the Customs Act, 1969. According to estimates in international market value of seized pangolin scales is approximately $ 150,000.
Pakistan is signatory to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora. Under the convention, cross border movement of pangolins, their scales and meat is illegal. However, due to its use in Chinese traditional medicines there is ever increasing demand of pangolin scales in China where these scales are sold at a very high price. They have become the most frequently seized mammal in Asia’s illegal wildlife trade, as smugglers sell the creatures to meet culinary and medicinal demand in China. The high price of pangolin scales in international market attracts smugglers to indulge into smuggling of pangolin scales. Indian pangolin is found in Pakistan locally called as ‘salla’. People capture and sell it out due to demand for its scales. The price of this animal is around Rs 8000/- to Rs 12000/-. One kg of scales is obtained at least from three animals.