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Thousands of slaughtered pangolins lie in a pit before being burnt, on 29th April 2015 in Medan, Indonesia. After a pangolin bust conducted by the Indonesian National Police along side WCS’s Wildlife Crimes Unit. The haul of the world’s most illegally trafficked animal is valued on the black market at USD 1.8 million. (Image Credit: Photo by Paul Hilton / ILCP)

Thousands of slaughtered pangolins lie in a pit before being burnt, on 29th April 2015 in Medan, Indonesia. After a pangolin bust conducted by the Indonesian National Police along side WCS’s Wildlife Crimes Unit. The haul of the world’s most illegally trafficked animal is valued on the black market at USD 1.8 million. (Image Credit: Photo by Paul Hilton / ILCP)

People have asked us, “why pangolins?” We answer: they are the most trafficked mammals in the world – they matter, and need our help. But what does trafficking mean? It means pangolins are stolen – stolen from their habitats, stolen from the people whose traditions depend on them, stolen from the fabric of nature and culture. Driven by greed, ignorance and depravity, trafficking is a crime without mercy.

The International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP)’s Paul Hilton has published his account of a recent bust of pangolin smugglers in Indonesia. These photos come closer than any we’ve in seen in our eight years of operations to capturing the tragedy that is pangolin trafficking.

As we mourn these pangolins and the loss suffered by Indonesia and all of us, we also recognize and applaud the success captured in the images. The determination of the Indonesian National Police’s Criminal Investigation Division, the government of Indonesia, and Wildlife Conservation Society’s Wildlife Crimes Unit stopped these smugglers in their tracks through sophisticated collaboration and is a major breakthrough in the battle to end pangolin trafficking. Paul Hilton’s images motivate us to work harder to save pangolins with our partners at the IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group.

Ready to help? Visit http://savepangolins.org/help.

(This article originally appeared on Save Pangolins. It has been reprinted here with permission.)

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