*Pangolin scales are used in Chinese traditional medicines, much like rhino horns and tiger parts.
GUWAHATI: The global focus on the smuggling of rhino horns to China has led to a drop in poaching of the rare one-horned rhinos in Assam. But the development has resulted in a surge in the trafficking of smaller species like pangolins.
Pangolins caught dead or alive in Assam and other parts of the Northeast are being trafficked to China's Yunnan province via Burma, which shares a porous border with Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. Majority of pangolins are smuggled to China through the international border in Manipur.
Pangolin scales are used in Chinese traditional medicines, much like rhino horns and tiger parts. It is also used for making luxury goods and hair treatment purpose. The meat of the animal is also in high demand in China.
Sources in the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) told The Sentinel that enhanced security and an international spotlight on the trafficking of rhinos and tigers have forced smugglers to shift to small mammals like pangolins.
In 2020 the sleuths of WCCB had recovered 8 live pangolins supposed to smuggled to China. The recovery was made in different parts of Assam including Guwahati. The pangolin's skin measuring 5.7 kg was recovered from Hojai and five persons were arrested. Sources said the smugglers collect pangolin and its skin mainly from different parts of lower Assam.