Pangolin taken hostage by armed group for ransom with proof-of-life pics

Don’t miss a thing by getting the Daily Star’s biggest headlines straight to your inbox!

A rare 'scaly anteater' has been taken hostage by a group of armed rebels who have demanded a ransom before they hand it back over.

The kidnappers who took the pangolin, which is known for its distinctive scales, have sparked fears of a new escalation in poaching after sending proof-of-life pictures to conservationists.

They captured the endangered animal in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) eastern Virunga National Park and warned it can't be released until they receive the cash.

But conservationists are worried that if they pay the rebels, it could lead to more kidnappings taking place in the future.

Adams Cassinga, founder of wildlife charity Conserv Congo, told The Times: “This is something new and alarming.

“They have seen how much money is spent on conservation issues and that rare animals are prized by the international community, and they would say even more so than the poor communities who live in the same area.”

It follows a string of kidnappings in eastern DRC, where a number of rebel groups have been battling conflict for decades.

Humans Right Watch ( HRW) previously revealed the groups have “kidnapped for ransom at least 170 people near the Virunga National Park between April 2017 and March 2020".

Thomas Fessy, a senior researcher at HRW commented: “Criminal gangs have demanded crippling ransoms from families and brutally raped scores of women and girls in Virunga National Park over the past three years.

“The Congolese government needs to end these gangs’ reign of terror while providing survivors – who face trauma and stigma – post-rape care and all the help they need.”

It has been reported that pangolins are the most trafficked non-human mammals in the world.

In China, officials have made a longstanding promise to come down on those that are using the animals for their scales.

But the illegal trade has continued and has seen their scales used for traditional medicines as well as their meat being seen as a delicacy.

For all the latest Daily Star news, sign up for one of our free newsletters here.

  • Animals

Source: Read Full Article