Durban – Six suspected pangolin traffickers between the ages of 30 and 43 were arrested by the Hawks on Wednesday in Kyalami, north of Johannesburg.
The arrest is the result of a collaborative effort between the Hawks Wildlife Trafficking Unit and the NGO Pangolin Africa, an initiative of the University of Pretoria.
Gauteng Hawks spokesman Captain Lloyd Ramovha said in a statement Thursday that the six men were arrested at the Kyalami Corner shopping complex.
“The unsuspecting union between the ages of 30 and 43 was taken by storm as it sought a buyer for one of the most protected and vulnerable species,” Ramovha said.
Ramovha said in addition to the arrests, police also seized a Toyota Fortuner, a Mini Cooper and a number of cell phones.
The suspects were also in possession of a live pangolin at the time of their arrest.
The six suspects will be charged with trafficking as well as possession of pangolin in violation of the National Biodiversity Environmental Management Act (NEMBA).
They were due to appear before the Midrand Court of First Instance on Friday.
The pangolin is considered the most trafficked animal in the world, with its scales being the main attraction. There are four known African pangolin species.
The scales of the pangolin are usually dried and used for medicinal purposes. Pangolin meat is also eaten by humans.
During 2019, 97 tonnes of scales were trafficked from Africa, which equates to around 160,000 pangolins, according to Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital co-founder and wildlife rehabilitation specialist Nicci Wright.
The arrest of the Hawks comes just weeks after the opening of the first veterinary service dedicated to pangolins in Africa in Johannesburg, the only one to have been mandated by the South African government.
The service is the only establishment in the country to have been responsible for the treatment and rehabilitation of captured pangolins.
Suspected pangolin traffickers arrested in Kyalami as they search for buyer
SourceSuspected pangolin traffickers arrested in Kyalami as they search for buyer