NONG KHAI, Dec 26 – Thai Army rangers rescued 74 endangered species pangolins from a syndicate of wildlife smugglers in this northeastern province bordering the Lao PDR, according to the Nong Khai Natural Resources and Environment Office.
Although international trade is banned, the scales and pangolin meat are in high demand as medicine in Vietnam and China.
The confiscated pangolins were valued at Bt1.3 million (over US$43,000), Supoj Predpring, Director of Nong Khai Natural Resources and Environment Office, told a news briefing on Monday.
The seizure took place late Sunday night when an Army ranger patrol received a tip that a gang of smugglers was transporting the pangolins from the South bound for the neighbouring country of Laos across the Mekong River.
While the rangers inspected Ban Tad Serm village in Sangkhom district, they found a long-tailed boat docked and a suspicious pick-up truck parked at the pier.
The driver threw 74 living pangolins, contained in eight nets, from the pick-up truck to the ground at the pier before speeding their vehicle, Mr Supoj said.
A group of men in the boat came ashore to collect the animals which had been dumped, but when the authorities rushed to search them the men hurriedly fled in their boat.
The authorities seized all 74 pangolins and will send them to a wildlife breeding centre in Chaiyaphum for nurturing.