Record haul of pangolin scales seized in Malaysia

Seized pangolin scales are seen during a press conference at the Malaysian Customs Complex in Sepang on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 09 May 2017

Record haul of pangolin scales seized in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian customs officers have seized more than 700 kilograms of pangolin scales, the country’s largest haul of the scales considered by some to have medicinal properties, officials said Monday.
The 712kg (1,570 pound) haul worth 9,184,800 ringgit ($2.12 million) was made last week in two separate seizures.
On May 2, eight gunny sacks of the scales weighing 408kg were found at a Kuala Lumpur airport warehouse. They are believed to have arrived on a flight from Accra, Ghana, which transited in Dubai.
Two days later, 10 more sacks weighing 304kg were found and seized. These were supposedly on a flight from Kinshasa, DR Congo, to Nairobi, Kenya, transiting in Dubai before reaching Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian officials say they are investigating.
Pangolins are indigenous to the jungles of Indonesia, parts of Malaysia and areas of southern Thailand, and their meat is considered a delicacy in China.
Four pangolin species can also be found in Africa. A 2016 report by wildlife monitor TRAFFIC and University of Adelaide indicated a rise in the African pangolin trade since 2000.
Increasingly they are smuggled to Southeast Asia from Africa, but the majority go to China.
The shy pangolin’s brown scales are made of nothing more than keratin — the same substance as fingernails — but are highly prized in Vietnam and China where they are misleadingly touted as bearing medicinal properties.
Soaring demand for the products has seen an estimated 1 million pangolins plucked from Asian and African forests over the past decade.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in Johannesburg last September voted overwhelmingly to ban trade in the endangered pangolin, the world’s most heavily trafficked mammal.


India says it will ‘peacefully resolve’ border stand-off with China

Updated 28 May 2020

India says it will ‘peacefully resolve’ border stand-off with China

  • Development follows US President’s mediation in the dispute
  • Stand-off began in the first week of May when a scuffle broke out near Pangong Tso Lake

NEW DELHI: After weeks of a border stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, New Delhi on Thursday announced it would resolve the matter diplomatically.

“India is engaged with China to peacefully resolve the matter. At the same time we remain firm in our resolve to ensuring India’s sovereignty and national security,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The development follows US President Donald Trump’s mediation in the dispute. In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Trump said, “We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute.”

The stand-off began when a scuffle broke out near Pangong Tso Lake in the first week of May. According to Indian reports, Chinese troops set up dozens of tents on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

A few days later, a Chinese patrol was stopped by Indian guards near the Nathula Pass in the Indian state of Sikkim. A troop build-up in the Ladakh and Sikkim areas followed the incidents. Reports suggested that 10,000 Chinese soldiers were sent to the border.

While New Delhi was still blaming China last week for “hindering” Indian patrols at the border, its Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that “the two sides have established mechanisms both at military and diplomatic levels to resolve situations which may arise in border areas peacefully through dialogue and continue to remain engaged through these channels.”

Foreign policy experts say that in the absence of any concrete information it is difficult to comment on whether any resolution is actually taking place.

“The whole region of Ladakh is undefined, there is no agreed LAC, in some areas they respect each other’s position, and in some areas they don’t, which is the crux of the problem,” Prof. Srikanth Kondapalli, of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, told Arab News.

“Geopolitical interests of both countries are at the center of the conflict,” Kondapalli said, “For India Ladakh is linked to its sovereignty. India has so many ongoing projects in that area. For China its ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes not far away from the region and connect to the Gwadar port in Pakistan. Besides, once American troops leave Afghanistan and a new regime takes over Kabul this might have its implications in the region.”

Manoj Kewalramani, of the Bangalore-based think tank The Takshashila Institution, said that from a geopolitical perspective both sides need stability at this time and the current situation on the border is not helping either of them.

“Beijing is facing challenges on many fronts, an economic slowdown, tensions with the US, international anger amid the pandemic, protests in Hong Kong, etc.,” he said. “Likewise, New Delhi’s interests lie in managing the COVID-19 outbreak at home and focusing on reviving the economy.”