A man in Limpopo was arrested after being found in possession of a live pangolin.
The scaled mammal is listed under protected species, as numbers have dwindled due to poaching.
Tip-off leads to endangered animal rescue
Police in the Lephalale area received a tip-off about a male who was selling the animal in Swartwater.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Motlalefa Mojapelo confirmed the arrest.
“Members of the Endangered Species Unit of the South African Police Service (SAPS) were then activated and succeeded in apprehending the suspect and confiscating the pangolin after following up on the information provided.
“The suspect, who is of foreign origin, is expected to appear in Phalala magistrate court on Monday 15 June 2020, facing a charge of possession of an endangered species.”
Brigadier Motlalefa Mojapelo
Pangolin trade in South Africa
Despite the pangolin being listed as a protected species, trafficking of the mammal has persisted in South Africa.
A popular destination for poached pangolin is China, where their scales are said to be sold in more than 60 different commercial products.
Earlier in the week, the Chinese government removed pangolin scales from a list of approved ingredients in traditional medicine.
This move is seen as a major victory in the conservation of the endangered species.
According to the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species, the pangolin remains one of the most widely trafficked animal species in Africa, with close to 200 000 intercepted by authorities in 2019 alone.
On Tuesday, South African Brent Stirton received an accolade at the Sony World Photography Awards 2020 in the Natural world and wildlife category for his series, “Pangolins in Crisis”.
He said of his project;
“This body of work exposes the trade, while exploring aspects of illegality and celebrating the people who are trying to save these animals. There are only three true Pangolin rescue and rehabilitation sites in the world, they are extremely fragile animals and the vast majority die quickly in captivity.”