The critically endangered pangolin. Source: Wikimedia
The Jakarta authorities have seized 657 critically endangered pangolins found hidden in freezers and arrested a man suspected of breaking wildlife protection laws, police said.
Indonesia’s police said they discovered the pangolins, known as “scaly anteaters”, during a raid in Jombang on Java after neighbours became suspicious about the large number of freezers at a house.
The pangolins, which are used as an expensive dish in China and are used in traditional Chinese medicine, were discovered wrapped in plastic and stored in five large freezers, East Java province police spokesman Raden Prabowo Argo Yuwono told the media.
The 55-year-old homeowner was arrested and could face five years in jail and a fine of 100 million rupiah (US$7,500) under wildlife protection laws.
“The suspect insisted the Pangolins were not his, a friend asked him to store the animals because he has freezers,” Yuwono said.
The suspect refused to tell investigators where the animals were being sent, Yuwono added.
Pangolin meat, skin and scales are prized in China and elsewhere in Asia. The skin and scales are used in traditional medicine and to make handbags, boots and shoes.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature said the Indonesian pangolin species is critically endangered.
Meanwhile, Sumatran police are investigating a suspected terror attack by a knife-wielding man on a priest during a Sunday church service in Sumatra, while bomb specialists were called to determine whether his backpack contained explosives.
The priest and his attacker suffered minor injuries, according to police in the northern Sumatra city.
“A terrorism act was carried out on Sunday morning at the Saint Joseph Catholic church,” said Rina Sari Ginting, a spokeswoman for Medan police. “Police are interrogating the perpetrator… and will search his house for any bomb-making materials.”
The man was apparently sitting with worshippers during the service before running at the priest.
“There was a small explosion like fireworks and he also took out a knife as he ran toward the priest,” witness Timbas Ginting was quoted saying by Reuters.
“What’s clear is that the pastor was threatened,” said Fahrizal, the head of Medan criminal investigations.