MANILA, Philippines- The Philippine Coast Guard on Monday said it will investigate why 400 boxes of frozen "scaly anteaters" or pangolins, locally known as balintong, were found at the cargo hold of the Chinese fishing vessel that ran aground in Tubbataha Reef last April 8.
Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo, PCG spokesperson, said that they would like to find out if the anteaters were taken from Philippine territory.
Anteaters are an endangered species in the Philippines, but are purportedly used by Chinese as traditional medicine.
Scales of anteaters can be sold for $114 for every kilo.
Initial investigation showed that each of 400 boxes found in the ship's cargo hold contained 25 to 30 frozen anteaters.
The fishing vessel ran aground in Tubbataha Reef on April 8 while the 12 Chinese aboard it were detained.
Last week, the Chinese were charged for poaching and for trying to bribe park rangers. The suspects, who were also charged with several charges for violation of the Tubbataha Reef Natural Park Act, are presently detained at the Palawan provincial jail.
The April 8 grounding came three three months after the US Navy ship USS Guardian ran aground Tubbataha Reef. The remaining parts of the salvaged US vessel were removed from the reef last March 30.