Police have many different tools at their disposal to fight crime, but perhaps the most useful aren’t weapons or handcuffs. Rather, it’s their intuition—and it comes in handy more than you think. In fact, good intuition explained how police officers in the Chinese region of Guangxi knew something odd was afoot after they spotted a car riding suspiciously low to the ground.
The officers pulled over the vehicle and performed a thorough search. At first, they thought they’d made a mistake; they couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary to explain the car’s obvious weight issues. Then they noticed a strong smell…
Officers often have to rely on their intuition when a situation just doesn’t feel right—even if they can’t immediately see why. When an officer listens to their gut instinct, they can usually prevent something bad from happening.
That was why police officers in the Guangxi region of China took interest when they noticed that a car with only two riders inside was sitting unusually low to the ground. Something just didn’t seem quite right, so they immediately stopped the vehicle.
Suspecting something was amiss—drugs? Weapons?—they performed an emergency search of the car, uncovering a hidden panel in the process. When they saw what was inside, however, they couldn’t believe their eyes…
Underneath the seats were 39 live pangolins. Pangolins are small mammals that are sometimes described as “scaly anteaters.” They’re actually the only known species of mammal on Earth that has scales—and these little guys in particular were in serious danger!
In Malay, “pangolin” roughly translates to “roller,” which describes their habit of rolling up into a ball when threatened. That’s certainly what they must have done when they were taken by the criminals. But what were these men planning to do with them?
After all, pangolins are sweet, solitary, nocturnal creatures who live in holes and hollowed-out trees. They typically feed on ants and termites. Despite their noxious odor, they are pretty much harmless to humans. So what were they doing in this car?
Tragically, pangolins are exceptionally rare, and they’re listed somewhere between “vulnerable” and “critically endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. And one of the reasons their numbers are dwindling is heartbreaking…
It’s a sad truth, but in today’s society, the pangolin is actually the most trafficked animal in the entire world. That puts them ahead of rhinos, tigers, and even elephants, which are all in the top five on the list of illegally traded animals.
All of these animals are commonly trafficked for various reasons. For instance, an elephant’s teeth, hair, bones, tail, trunk, and ivory tusks are all coveted items. But what would anyone want with a tiny, little pangolin?
Sadly, pangolin meat is actually considered a delicacy in some Asian cultures. This is partly due to ancient-held beliefs that pangolin scales are capable of helping to cure certain diseases, like asthma and even cancer.
In addition to their alleged medicinal properties, pangolins are also incredibly difficult to capture. They often require a lot of effort on the poacher’s behalf, making even small shipments come with a lucrative reward.
Unfortunately, as a result, there have been frequent cases of poaching and illegal pangolin shipments from Indonesia to China in recent years. This is something the border authorities are certainly aware of, too.
Over the past decade, officials have started cracking down more on the illegal transportation of pangolins. In one case, authorities were able to seize upwards of 10 tons of pangolin meat from a Chinese ship.
In another case, border officials in Laos had a run-in with a man who was attempting to cross into Thailand with several crates in tow. When authorities detained the man and searched the cargo, they made a shocking discovery…
Each crate was packed with a number of blue bags. As they inched closer, the authorities noticed the sacks started to move. When they opened them, they were appalled to find pangolins inside each of them!
In total, there were 81 pangolins stuffed into the blue bags and placed in crates. Though the smugglers were stopped before the animals were slaughtered and traded, sadly, some of the pangolins had already suffocated during the several weeks-long trek.
In the case of the 39 pangolins found in the hidden compartment of the car, one of the drivers fled the scene and was still at large. He undoubtedly knew the severity of the punishment he’d have gotten if charges were pressed.
Luckily, the border patrol officers managed to arrest the other poacher who was in the car. Hopefully, both were brought to justice and authorities could help end the pangolin trade for good.
Sadly, as long as pangolin meat remains in demand, this unique creature will be in grave danger of becoming extinct. That is, unless humans take more active measures to protect them…
With enough awareness and a vigilant police force, pangolins may be able to thrive throughout their various territories once again. It’s hard to imagine someone hurting such an adorable little animal!
These poachers have to be stopped in order to preserve this poor species. It’s a good thing the police trusted their instincts in these cases. Here’s to ending the pangolin trade!
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