Police in the southern Guangdong province busted a wildlife-smuggling ring sitting on eight tons of pangolin scales worth about $62 million, among other illegal animal products, Chinese state media reported Wednesday.
The wildlife trade looms large in most theories of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in 2019 that went on to ravage the entire planet.
China’s Global Times estimated the smugglers must have killed 16,000 pangolins to obtain the scales in their possession when the police moved in. The gang also dealt in endangered wild birds, including live specimens.
Pangolin scales are considered valuable in traditional Chinese medicine – so valuable that Asian pangolins are among the most widely trafficked animals on the black market and have become an endangered species. Pangolin meat is also considered a delicacy in some circles.
Police arrested 17 suspects from the wildlife smuggling ring in