A boating accident off the Philippines coast has exposed Chinese poaching of a protected species of scaly anteater, or pangolin, prized in traditional medicine.
A 500-ton Chinese fishing vessel, the Min Long Yu, crashed into a coral reef April 8. When the boat was inspected, authorities found more than 2,000 butchered pangolins rolled up and packed into 400 boxes. It is one of the largest hauls of the species, which is subject to an international trade ban.
Pangolins are long, lizard-like land mammals covered with scales, which make them look like pine cones when they roll themselves up for protection.
The meat of this strange animal is considered a delicacy in southern China, while the scales are thought to have medicinal properties to treat asthma and cancer and to induce lactation in new mothers.