JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A shy and defenseless anteater has become the most illegally trafficked mammal in Asia.
Smugglers are vacuuming up the pangolin for use in traditional Chinese medicine. Many believe it can cure an array of ailments and boost sexual prowess.
Conservationists are making what they say is a last-ditch effort to save the scaly anteater by strengthening enforcement of wildlife protection laws.
The pangolin was once widespread in Asia. Now it is found only in parts of Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and India.
Its meat and scales are shipped along Asian smuggling routes similar to those for tigers and other endangered species. The largest market is China. Other destinations include Vietnam and South Korea.