12 pangolin saved from wildlife trafficking syndicate

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NONG KHAI, July 19 — Thailand’s Mekong Riverine Operation Unit rescued 12 endangered pangolins – commonly known as ant eaters – and arrested one wildlife smuggler, Thai authorities said Thursday.

Capt Samart Srimuang, chief of the Operations and Intelligence Division of the Nong Khai-based Mekong Riverine Operation Unit, said the detainee was identified as Pongsak Thongbot, 28. He was arrested while driving his pickup truck carrying the endangered species in Rattanawapi district.

The suspect confessed that he was hired to transport 12 scaly ant-eaters from the southern province of Chumphon to Nong Khai. He said that he was to deliver the endangered species to an unidentified party near the Mekong River who would smuggle them across the border, according to the officer.

Pangolin scales and pangolin flesh are in high demand in Vietnam and China as medicine although their international trade is banned.

The smuggling and sale of pangolins is prohibited under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES.