Jakarta. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry's Ranger Rapid Response Unit and an investigations team have successfully foiled a pangolin smuggling attempt in Medan, North Sumatra.
As reported by environmental website Mongabay, the authorities managed to arrest two perpetrators, including a member of the Indonesian Military (TNI), with eight critically endangered pangolins on the backseat of their vehicle on Saturday (18/06).
"We managed to arrest the culprits. One of them is a military member, and the other a civilian. Investigations are still ongoing," said Tulus Hutahuruk, head of law enforcement at the Sumatra Environment and Forestry authority.
During the raid, the TNI member, who is stationed in Padang, West Sumatra, allegedly showed his military identity card in the hope of getting police to back off. He also claimed that he was unaware that his friend had been transporting pangolins for sale on the black market.
Authorities say the TNI member will be handed over to the military police for further investigation.
Aceh-North Sumatra conservation area chief Haluanto Ginting believes the men were planning to trade the pangolins with another group of poachers in Medan.
"We're still investigating. One pangolin can cost around Rp 5 million [$375]. Multiplied by eight it will be more than Rp 40 million," Haluanto said.
The eight pangolins will be released back into the wild after undergoing health checks.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, pangolins are highly threatened due to growing demand in China for their meat and their keratin scales.