The pangolin trade is fuelled by the belief that their scales possess medicinal properties.
Three men have recently been arrested in Johannesburg after being found in possession of two pangolins.
The Johannesburg Tactical Response Team, led by Lieutenant Colonel Ryland carried out the successful operation on July 15.
Deployed in Diepsloot, the operation was conducted after receiving intelligence indicating the endangered breed of anteater was being trafficked in the area.
The suspects were then tracked to a house in Cosmo City where police carried out the arrest.
Honeydew police spokesperson, Captain Balan Muthan, confirmed the incident, saying, “The three suspects were detained and taken to Honeydew police station for processing. These animals are endangered, meaning there are very few of them still left in Africa and the world, and they need to be protected”.
The two pangolins were subsequently handed over to the Endangered Species Unit for protection.
The trafficking of pangolins or their scales, much like rhino horn, stems from the fringe belief that they possess medicinal properties.
The penalty for trafficking endangered species varies depending on animal and scale of the criminal operation, with severe fines and a sentence up to 10 years imprisonment a possibility.