Authorities in China’s Guangdong Province have busted a smuggling ring and confiscated 2,674 pangolins, Xinhua reported on Tuesday.
Photos taken on September 14, show dozens of pangolins without their scales, lying on the floor inside a fishing vessel. The police were on an anti-smuggling boat patrol on the Pearl River near Yamen, when suddenly they spotted the suspicious vessel.
414 boxes of frozen pangolins were discovered on it.
This is China’s biggest trafficking case involving the species in recent years.
The authorities arrested two suspects on the boat. According to Xinhua, the two received the shipment of smuggled pangolins in international waters, and were promised 10,000 yuan ($1,580) reward each, if they managed to deliver the pangolins to the predetermined destination.
Pangolins are listed as second-class state protected species in China. But despite being officially recognized as endangered, the species is subject to smuggling, as their meat is considered a delicacy and their scales are believed to have medicinal qualities.
Story from Xinhua and CCTV.
Learn more about pangolins, why people are eating them, and why they are the most illegally traded animal in the world.