Pangolin smugglers slammed with a scandalous N$300 guilt admission

Three Namibians came off almost scot-free after they were recently caught redhanded in Swakopmund while trying to allegedly sell two Pangolins – a rare and endangered species. Jason Nangolo (52), Juuso Ipadhi (53) and Hans Aoseb (39) were each fined N$300, while they allegedly were trying to sell the animals for a whooping N$45 000.
The incident was con-firmed by Deputy Commissioner Ottilie Kashuupulwa, Regional Crime Co-ordinator for the Erongo Region to the namib times this week. The three individuals were caught at the parking lot at the Jetty on 28 June. “We received an anonymous tip-off of the deal which was supposed to go down and caught them in the possession of the animals,” Kashuupulwa said.
According to her two men caught the two animals in the vicinity of Tsumeb. It was a mother Pangolin with her small baby by her side. Pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, are extremely rare and are regarded as an endangered species in Namibia. “The animals were alive and well and were taken by officials of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and set free again,” Kashuupulwa continued. The animals were found in a wooden crate covered in blue plastic on the back of a white pickup. After they were found in possession of the animals, they each received a fine of N$300.
“It is extremely demoivating and frustrating when we hear of such low fines being imposed in these cases,” said Francois Theart from the organisation Intelligence Support Against Poaching (I-SAP) to namib times. He described the traffic of Pangolins greater as the traffic of Rhino horns. “Since ISAP’s inception we managed to save five Pangolins to date from being smuggled,” he continued. One smuggler wanted to sell a Pangolin for a record-breaking N$60 000.
According to Theart there currently exists a huge demand on “exotic species”, which are highly sought after in the Far East. It is alleged that the scales of Pangolins are used similarly as Rhino Horn and act as an aphrodisiac. Furthermore the scales are also used in soup and it is even thought that they bring good luck.
Theart described it as very difficult to get accurate data on the amount of Pangolins in Namibia as they are shy animals that are mostly active during the night. They also don’t do well in captivity and suffer from stress easily. Although ISAP has good relations with officials from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism as well as the Police’s’ Protected Resources Unit (PRU), he described the low fines imposed in such cases as very demotivating to all involved. “We pour in a huge amount of time, energy and effort to catch smugglers and protect the animals and when we finally do manage a success, the smugglers get out on bail or with very low fines. It is extremely frustrating,” he said.

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