Three people have been arrested after allegedly capturing and planning to sell a mother and baby pangolin in Zambia.
Zambian authorities located the terrified animals June 12 following a week-long search, according to The Dodo. The pangolins were found in a wooden box, clinging together in a defensive posture.
“From the poor condition of the mother and baby, it is thought that they had been in captivity for over two weeks,” Vicky Flynn of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation told The Dodo.
The GRI Wildlife Crime Prevention Project is currently rehabilitating the animals, which were severely weakened during their time in captivity. Once they fully recover, they will reportedly be released into the Kafue National Park, the largest national park in Zambia.
“They seem to be eating, which is a great sign,” Annekim Geerdes of the GRI Wildlife Vet Program, said in a statement, according to The Dodo. “They will be given a chance to rest and eat well again.”
Each night Geerdes reportedly takes the nocturnal pangolins out for a walk, which includes a meal of insects.
Pangolins are hunted and sold due to a growing demand for their meat and scales in certain Asian markets. They are the most heavily-traded wild mammal in the world, with up to 233,980 killed between 2011 and 2013, according to The Dodo.
On June 18, two people, including a member of the Indonesian military, were arrested after trying to smuggle eight critically-endangered pangolins in Medan, North Sumatra, Jakarta Globe reports.
Tulus Hutahuruk, head of law enforcement at the Sumatra Environment and Forestry Authority, indicated that one pangolin goes for about $375 in North Sumatra.
Sources: The Dodo, Jakarta Globe / Photo Credit: GRI Wildlife Vet Program/Annekim via The Dodo