The Philippine coast guard said Monday it had found hundreds of frozen scaly anteaters, or pangolins, in the cargo hold of a Chinese boat that ran aground in a protected marine sanctuary last week.
Wildlife officials have been informed of the surprising discovery, which could lead to more charges for the 12 Chinese men arrested on charges including poaching after their boat was stranded in Tubbataha Reef last week.
“We found 400 boxes containing anteaters aboard the vessel, and we are now determining where these came from,” coast guard spokesman Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo told AFP.
He could not say whether the pangolins were frozen alive, or had already been butchered as meat.
A protected species, pangolins are widely hunted in parts of Asia for their meat, skin and scales. In China, they are known as a delicacy and are purported to have medicinal qualities.