Last Great Ape (LAGA) Wildlife Law Enforcement had been watching a couple of suspected wildlife traffickers for some time. The pair were tracked as they traveled from southern Cameroon to the capital, Yaoundé. Then, in September 2017, they were apprehended and one of their backpacks opened – and what it contained was truly shocking.
The suspected traffickers were found carrying a petrified animal and some 80 pounds of pangolin scales. Pangolins are an extremely sought-after animal in parts of Asia where their meat is regarded as a delicacy. Meanwhile, the scales themselves are used in traditional “medicines.”
Around a million pangolins have been removed from the wild illegally in the last ten years, making them one of the world’s most trafficked animals. Their numbers in Asia have dwindled dramatically, and while the ones found in Africa are slightly safer, increased demand means they too are now under threat. Indeed, two species of pangolin are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.