(WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING) The little-known pangolin is a tiny, nocturnal, Armadillo-like creature who is very shy. Their large Keratin scales that cover their skin help protect them from predators. But unfortunately, these scales do not protect them from humans.

In certain parts of Asia, the Keratin scales are used for medicinal purposes. Just last week, Ivory Coast officials confiscated over 3 tons of pangolin scales in transit to China. This massacre of an estimated 4,000 pangolins has devastated their population.

Read on to learn more about the pangolin and see how you can help save these innocent animals from traffickers. — Global Animal

Pangolins are one of the most hunted animals in the world. Photo Credit: Animal Planet

The DoDo, Sarah V Schweig

What Ivory Coast officials found in bags last week is being called the largest bust of its kind in West Africa. It’s also being called a massacre.

An estimated 4,000 pangolins were killed for the scales that traffickers were trying to sell and ship to China, where the scales. There, the scales — which are made of keratin, the same material as our fingernails — are believed to have medicinal properties.

The scales were stuffed into bags weighing just over 3 tons, and were worth approximately $80,000.

Eight suspects found with the shipment were arrested.

The pangolin is a shy, nocturnal creature who has been driven to the verge of extinction because of this rampant trade. All eight species of pangolin, which are native to Asia and Africa, are now critically endangered and the pangolin is considered the most highly trafficked animal on the planet.

An Ivorian wildlife agent holds pangolin scales confiscated from traffickers in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Photo Credit: Reuters/Thierry Gouegnon

Sometimes traffickers stuff live pangolins into cramped boxes and bags to ship them to the far East, where pangolin meat is also considered a delicacy. Occasionally, wildlife officials are able to intercept these shipments and the surviving pangolins get a chance to be rehabilitated and released into the wild.

Sadly, that isn’t the case this time, as the bags were full only of scales from the bodies of thousands of pangolins.

“Some of the contraband was concealed in a primary school with the logic that such an innocent location will never be searched,” EAGLE, an anti-trafficking network, wrote. “Thousands of pangolins had to be killed for this shipment alone, and this criminal network was regularly carrying such a magnitude of pangolins’ slaughter.”

More The DoDo: https://www.thedodo.com/in-the-wild/pangolin-scales-west-africa