Aug 14: The pangolin has become a hot favourite with wildlife traders in the region as it is believed their scales have medicinal properties that can cure arthritis, fever, venereal diseases and skin disorders. Only a week ago the police busted a poachers gang in Kamalapur village near Hampi and arrested seven men with 2.5 kg of pangolin scales, clearly meant for the international market where there is a huge demand for them.
Honorary wildlife warden, Bellary district Santosh Martin, says the demand for pangolin scales and monetary lizards has shot up in the international market because of their alleged medicinal value. Around 1,000 pangolins have been hunted in the last two months alone in the region, he says, explaining that the poachers get 2 kg of scales from each of the animals. which they proceed to sell for over Rs 70,000 a kg.
“Around 2000 kg of pangolin scales worth around Rs 14 crore is learnt to have been sold to traders abroad particularly in China and Korea over the last couple of months,” Mr Martin adds. Lured by the big money involved, many local hunters and trappers use snares and dogs to trap the pangolins and sell them to traders in Bengaluru, Delhi and Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh and they in turn tap buyers in the international market.
A complete ban on international pangolin trade was imposed in 2000 by parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, but this does not deter the poachers who find ways to beat it. Besides the pangolin, poachers also trade in the Indian Sand Boa (two-headed snake) and star tortoise found in the shrub jungles of Sandur, Daroji, Kamalapur, Hampi-Anegundi and Gangavati forest belt.