Pangolin Prison – Part II

This article is brought to you by the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). Read our other articles on the National Geographic Voices blog featuring the work of our iLCP Fellow Photographers all around the world.

Text and photos by iLCP Fellow Paul Hilton

Click here to read Part 1 of “Pangolin Prison.”

Warning: this article contains images that some viewers might find disturbing. 

Two days after the discovery and bust of a massive illegal wildlife smuggling operation in Medan, Sumatra, and of 5 tons of slaughtered pangolins, I’m back in a taxi heading out to a huge cleared block of land, several kilometers from the warehouse. The Indonesian National Police and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Wildlife Crimes Unit interrupted an important pangolin smuggling operation in the port of Medan, providing black market pangolin meat and scales to traders in China and Vietnam, and now this unimaginable hoard of dead pangolins needs to be destroyed.

It’s 6am; upon arrival I see a pit next to an excavator. I meet the team; nothing really prepares me for what I’m about to see. As I approached the side of the pit, I’m left speechless. Thousands of dead pangolin bodies, some frozen, others defrosted and some in plastic bags. A spokesmen from the police said that pangolins where 4 to 5 deep. According to WCS, I was looking at least three, possibly four thousand in total.

At 9am the National Indonesian Police arrives ahead of the Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar and after a brief ceremony the pangolins were set alight.

My taxi pulled away from the scene, as I was still trying to comprehend what I had just witnessed.

3000 to 4000 slaughtered frozen pangolins lying in a pit before being burnt, 29th April 2015 Medan Indonesia. After a pangolin bust  conducted by the Indonesian National Police along side WCS’s Wildlife Crimes Unit. The haul of the world’s most hunted animal is valued on the black market at USD 1.8 million. Photo: Paul Hilton of WCS
3000 to 4000 slaughtered frozen pangolins lying in a pit before being burnt, 29th April 2015 Medan Indonesia. After a pangolin bust conducted by the Indonesian National Police along side WCS’s Wildlife Crimes Unit. The haul of the world’s most hunted animal is valued on the black market at USD 1.8 million. Photo: Paul Hilton of WCS

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Help us is spreading the word about the plight of the pangolin by sharing this article, and letting more people know, before the pangolin is gone.

Please donate to Wildlife Conservation Society: http://www.wcs.org/wcs-org/donate.aspx

Other organizations that are working to raise awareness of the pangolin include Save Pangolins and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission Pangolin Specialist Group.

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The mission of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) is to further environmental and cultural conservation through photography. iLCP is a Fellowship of more than 100 photographers from all around the globe. As a project based organization, iLCP coordinates Conservation Photography Expeditions to get world-renowned photographers in the field teamed with scientists, writers, videographers and conservation groups to gather visual assets that are used to create conservation communications campaigns to foment conservation successes. iLCP is a 501 (c) (3) organization. Support our work at this link.