BEIJING, Jan 19 (Reuters) - A foul stench led Chinese police to a home where they found 16 protected pangolins in cages and plastic bags, and another 37 dead ones in the refrigerator, the Xinhua news agency said on Saturday.
The rescued pangolins, an endangered scaly ant eater sought for their skin and for use in Chinese medicine, ranged in size from the palm of a human hand to four kilograms, Xinhua said, citing the local Forest Police Station.
One bear paw was also found in the fridge in the house in southern China’s Guangdong Province.
Four suspects were arrested, Xinhua said.
The solitary and nocturnal pangolin is found only in Asia and Africa. Its meat is considered a delicacy for some, its scaly skin can be made into handbags and shoes, and its scales and blood are used in Chinese medicine to treat allergies and sexually transmitted disease.
All international trade in the animals was banned in 2000.
Earlier this month, two men in the southern city of Xiamen received suspended death sentances for smugging 17 containers of pangolin meat and scales worth 23 million yuan ($3.2 million) into China. ($1 = 7.242 Yuan) (Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by David Fogarty)