|A Sunda pangolin|
A recent analysis conducted by the Preliminary Assessment of Pangolin Trade in Malaysia's capital city of Kota Kinabalu in Sabah showed that the wildlife department had seized notebooks during a raid at an illegal syndicate in 2009. The books revealed that a total of 22,200 Sunda pangolins had been killed and 834.4 kg of pangolin scales were supplied to the syndicate between May 2007 and January 2009. They also detailed significant figures such as the animals' weight, volume, sources, and prices purchased by the syndicate during the 14-month period.
The department provided wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC access to these notebooks, in order to combat the illicit trade in pangolins. According to Noorainie Awang Anak, senior program officer with TRAFFIC and the report's author, the detailed record-taking has provided a unique insight into the volumes of pangolins being smuggled in the region. However, he pointed out that the numbers could be higher as no books were found during the period of August 2007 to February 2008, or June 2008. It is unknown whether these books had gone missing, or because there was no smuggling during that period. Mr. Anak's report also showed results of a survey, in which fourteen pangolin hunters were interviewed on the west coast of Sabah. According to them, the main drivers of the increased pangolin trade were middlemen offering high prices for the animals. In addition to that, all but one of the thirteen men believed that the pangolin is on the verge of extinction.
This article, in opinion, gives a clear idea how these wildlife enforcement agencies rely on some significant sources of information while combating the illegal trade of exotic wildlife. This way, they get an in-depth picture from the statistics showing how many animals are being illegally smuggled across the borders. And based on what the Sabah Wildlife Department had found, the numbers are staggering. I believe that this is a sure sign that the pangolin population in Southeast Asia is close to extinction, and that serious measures must be taken to recover the population from further fluctuation. Also, it is interesting to see that Mr. Anak's survey showed that there are pangolin hunters who are aware about the conditions in the animals' population. I think that one possibility in combating the illegal pangolin trade would be to enlist former pangolin hunters, who would provide the authorities with some more important information about the ongoing crisis through their knowledge and experience.
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