Ban Suan police who rushed to the scene of a road accident in Muang district of Sukhothai Friday night (Feb 16) found to their surprise that the driver of a pickup truck which plunged into a roadside ditch was nowhere to be seen but left behind 24 pangolins, one pangolin carcass and five kilogrammes fo pangolin scales.

Ban Suan police superintendent, Pol Col Montri Baothong, said he expected the truck driver to be captured in the next couple of days because police had information about him from the car registration document found in the vehicle.

He said police were checking all the CCTV cameras along the route used by the pickup truck to determine the origin of the pangolins which was believed to be Phetchabun province.

All the 24 pangolins, including some which have babies on their backs, were initially kept at Ban Suan police station after they were taken from the pickup truck.

They were on Saturday handed over to officials from Tham Chao Ram wildlife sanctuary who later took them to the game reserve.

Pangolin is a protected species in Thailand. It is the world's most trafficked mammals because it is believed that its blood, scales and meat has aphrodisiac properties.

Meanwhile, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is marking World Pangolin Day today (Feb 17) by unveiling a new guide to help law enforcement officers identify species and origins of pangolins in a bid to curb the illegal trade in wildlife.

Developed by the USAID Wildlife Asia project, the Pangolin Species Identification Guide: A Rapid Assessment Tool for Field and Desk will make it easier for law enforcement officers to identify pangolins and pangolin parts � such as scales and skins � they may encounter in the field.

The guide provides species identification characteristics and range maps, allowing officers to identify pangolins and their likely country of origin.

This guide will be a great benefit for frontline law enforcement officers who work at entry ports, such as international airports, seaports and land border crossings, to effectively enforce any laws relating to pangolins, said Pinsak Suraswadi, Deputy Director General of Thailand's Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP).

In 2017, authorities seized 32 tons of pangolin scales and 563 live pangolins in Southeast Asia and China. According to recent research published in Conservation Letters, up to 2.7 million pangolins are being killed every year in Central Africa alone. In many cases seized pangolins are not identified properly, making it difficult to know the original source of the trafficked individuals.

We have to act now to protect pangolins, as they are at high risk of extinction, said acting USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia Director Richard Goughnour. This guide is one important contribution to better equip law enforcement officers to succeed in fighting this crime.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (ThaiPBS)

By tladmin