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N1.6trn worth of Pangolin smuggled from Nigeria in 10 years

No fewer than 800,000 kilogrammes of pangolin valued at N1.6trillion ($3.2billion) have been smuggled from Nigeria to Asian countries in the last 10 years.


According to a new study by a team of conservationists led by the University of Cambridge, the country has become the hub of the animal trafficking since 2010. The study revealed that the use of Pangolin scales was responsible for the illicit trade.

It said: “Just those shipments intercepted and reported by authorities between 2010 and September 2021 amounted to 190,407 kilos of Pangolin scales taken from at least 799,343 but potentially up to almost a million dead creatures.


“Some seizures occurred in ports such as Hong Kong after leaving African shores. Researchers traced cargo from countries such as Cameroon and Gabon that was destined for Asian nations including China and Cambodia, sometimes travelling via France and Holland.


All had been funneled through Nigeria. Overall enforcement in Nigeria is lax and corruption endemic. Total prosecutions for Pangolin trafficking in Nigeria amount to just four all in the last year.”


The seizures in the country, the study further explained, was just 2 per cent of the overall illegal trade. According to a lead researcher from Cambridge’s Department of Zoology, Charles Emogor, researchers had randomly sampled dozens of sacks impounded by Customs, and estimate that some 90per cent of the scales involved in Nigerialinked trade are from whitebellied Pangolins. He noted that the highest quantity of scales destined for any country or territory was Vietnam followed by China and Hong Kong.


Emogor said: “The researchers call for increased law enforcement efforts and mandatory training in the detection of illegal wildlife products for Nigerian customs officials, particularly at seaports, along with proper seizure documentation by Nigeria and surrounding nations.”


It would be recalled that in October 2021 Nigeria Customs Service (NCS)’s Comptroller- General Strike Force arrested another gang for the smuggling of N1.73billion worth of Pangolin scales and claws.


It was gathered that during the undercover operation, the team recovered a total of 1,014 kilogrammes of Pangolin scales and claws. Those arrested were identified as Salif Sanwidi and Sunday Ebeyin, while other


of the gang are currently on the run. Effort is ongoing to apprehend the fleeing members of the gang In August 2021, three Guinean nationals and a Nigerian were arrested over N22 billion worth of Pangolin scales, claws and elephant tusk.


Addressing media men at the Customs Training School, Ikeja, where the seizures were displayed, the National Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service, Joseph Attah, a deputy comptroller of Customs, revealed that experts from the Federal Ministry of Environment, Department of Forestry would conduct the DNA test on the Pangolin scales to determine the country where the animals were killed.

Attah explained that, though, the illegal dealing in wildlife was not essentially a Nigerian thing, some foreigners with the active connivance of few Nigerians were using Nigeria as a transit ground.


In 2019, the value of illicit trade in Pangolin scale from Vietnam Nigeria to China, and other parts of South East Asia in one year N328. 5billion ($900million) due to high


It was learnt that roasted Pangolin scales were believed to cure cancer, relieve Cerebral Palsy and stimulate breast milk. The scales are prized $4,000 per kilogramme, while the meat is $300 per kilogramme; live Pangolin attracts $1,000 based on current black market prize.




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