| Hami |
LESS than a week after identifying two cases of illegal sales of endangered pangolins, the founder of 1stopbrunei Wildlife, Muhd Shavez Cheema, was saddened to learn of yet another Sunda pangolin being offered on sale on a social media network.
The individual who put the animal up for sale was contacted and informed of the animal’s status and the illegality of trying to make a profit from it. The individual was reluctant initially but eventually agreed to hand the animal over to the group, which released it back into the wild in Belait in the presence of local students from Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Institut Teknologi Brunei and Sultan Sharif Ali Secondary School.
Pangolins, which are keratin-scale covered mammals, play an important role in the ecosystem as they feed on ants and termites, contributing to nutrient cycles and keeping dominant ant species at bay.
Pangolins are classified as endangered under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which has prohibited the trading of the animal. Despite this prohibition they are still widely poached due to the false belief that their meat and scales possess medicinal value.
According to the 1stopbrunei wildlife club, which cited statistics from TRAFFIC (http://www.traffic.org/), 20,000 pangolins were illegally poached in Sabah between 2007-2009. The club expressed its hope that Brunei’s pristine forests can be a refuge for pangolins and other remarkable denizens of the forest.
This year the club has seen 13 pangolins sold in the black market but unfortunately was only able to rescue five of them to be released back into the wild.
It has been difficult for the club to convince the many sellers identified online to hand over the pangolins for safe release.
The public is advised to report poaching and illegal sale activities to the relevant authorities.