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Customs Agents Find Suspicious Crate Has Rotten Smell; What They Found Was Shocking

When suspicious cargo container arrived at a port in China's Yantian District, customs officers were immediately suspicious. The big shipping container came through an unusual route, and didn't even have the right paperwork with it.

On top of that, there was a sickly smell of decay emanating from the carton. They suspected something sneaky was going on, but were heartbroken when they discovered the contents.

The customs officers flagged the shipment and broke into it to inspect the contents. They found big bags of coal stacked up, filling the container, which was even more perplexing.

Who would go through all that trouble to hide coal? Plus, the bags of coal didn't explain the nasty smell coming from deep within the stack.

The agents decided to go digging even further, bringing out one sack of coal after another. They finally found some sacks deep inside, under the coal, that had a totally different content, and all the pieces fell into place.

Inside a couple of sacks that stank like dead bodies they found thousands of pangolin shells.

Pangolins are 'scaly anteaters', and the gentle mammal is the only one known to have such scales. The scales are made of keratin, the same kind of protein that makes nails and hair. Their bodies are covered with the protective scales.

Pangolins are endangered creatures because poachers prize them for their scales. According to conservationists, there are about 300 of these beautiful creatures poached every single day because they fetch a high price on the black market.

In China and Vietnam, their meat is considered a delicacy. In Africa and Asia, their scales are used for traditional folk medicines.

Though there is no proof behind it, some people who deal in ancient remedies believe that the scales treat a number of different types of conditions, from asthma to arthritis, and even cancer.

Because of these claims, the scales are in high demand. It seems that no matter what authorities do to raise awareness that there is no scientific data to back up the claims, snake-oil salespeople still tout their remedies as miracle cures, and desperate people suffering from serious conditions are willing to take the chance.

This is why the pangolin population is quickly becoming critical.

When customs officers found the bags of pangolin scales, they were sickened by the contents. There were 13.1 tons of scales hidden under the charcoal. It would take over 30,000 pangolins to amount such a massive shipment of scales. It is unthinkable that so many animals were killed for the black market.

This was the largest illegal pangolin byproduct catch ever made in China. Investigators in China are now determined to find the culprits.

Unfortunately, this particular shipment had scant information on shipping labels. Authorities are worried they may never be able to find the people behind the massive massacre.

If something isn’t done now to stop pangolin poaching, it may not be long before the species will be unable to make a comeback in the wild. Right now, buying a product made of pangolin meat or scales can land you in prison for 10 years.

But even with such a steep penalty, it hasn't seemed to stop the black market from poaching and trading.

Source: Honest To Paws
Photos: CITES/Facebook, Oregon State University/Flickr

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