Johor couple held for trading in pangolins

GRIK, Malaysia - A couple have been calling their car "home" for the past month, living and sleeping in the vehicle so that they can carry on their pangolin business.

The man, 25, and his wife, 20, were willing to travel 800km from their hometown in Batu Pahat, Johor, to Kuala Kangsar to buy the animals for sale in Kota Baru, Kelantan.

Pangolins are protected animals under the Wildlife Conservation Act.

The couple's decision to meet with an old friend in Jalan Duku, Taman Sinaran here, yesterday before proceeding to Kelantan with 16 pangolins weighing 120kg hidden in their car boot, led to their arrest.

They had apparently left a gap in the boot to enable the pangolins to breath.

Perak Anti-Smuggling Unit (UPP) commander Assistant Superintendent Kasturi Othman said the couple initially refused to cooperate with his officers who had gone to check on the car by refusing to get out of the vehicle and winding up all the windows. They then sped off.

"However, our officers managed to nab them in front of their friend's house. We searched the car and found 16 pangolins.

"The suspects admitted that they bought the animals from traders in Kuala Kangsar at a cost of RM31,200 or RM260 per kg for sale to restaurants in Kelantan."

Kasturi said his officers were assisted by five policemen from the Grik district police headquarters.

Several types of soaps, detergents and clothing, believed to be supplies for the couple, were found inside the Proton Waja.

"The husband and wife admitted they had turned the car into their 'home' to make it easier for them to carry out their business. They had left their infant child in the care of a relative back home.

The couple and the pangolins have been handed over to the National Parks and Wildlife Department (Perhilitan) for further action under the Wildlife Conservation Act.

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