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November 15, 2012

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Man who bought protected anteaters going to prison

A FARMER was sentenced to two years in prison for illegally transporting five Chinese pangolins, a nationally protected species of anteater, from east China's Fujian Province to Shanghai, the Jinshan District People's Court said yesterday.

The farmer, Zhang Qianjin, was also fined 10,000 yuan (US$1,606) on being convicted of illegally transporting an endangered species. Prosecutors said Zhang purchased the five pangolins from a street vendor on a highway in Fujian Province on June 6. He put the animals in a car and drove toward Shandong Province in northern China.

The court heard that Zhang took a wrong turn and stopped at a road check station on the Jinshan section of Shenhai Highway, which links Shanghai to neighboring Zhejiang Province. Police seized the pangolins in the car and took Zhang into custody.

Prosecutors said Zhang purchased the pangolins at high prices, which meant he knew the animals were protected and could be sold for profit.

Zhang argued he bought the pangolins to eat. He also asked for a lenient sentence, claiming he had surrendered to the police. The court said Zhang didn't turn himself in since the pangolins were found during a road check.

Under the Chinese criminal law, those convicted of illegally buying, transporting or selling nationally protected species or products made from them can be jailed for up to 10 years.

The Chinese pangolin lives in tropical and subtropical zones. It can dig up to 2.5 meters deep in the ground with its strong, claw-tipped forefeet, in four to five minutes. It was not clear what happened to the pangolins.


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