Four people including three Burundi nationals have been apprehended by police in Morogoro Region after being found in possession of 67 bags of rare armadillo pangolin shells (kakakuona) worth more than 1.4bn/-, which were about to be exported.
Morogoro Regional Police Commander (RPC), Ulrich Matei, said the suspects were arrested just before midnight on October 28, at Reli Street, Kichangani ward in the municipality, in a warehouse with grinding mill machines.
He said they received a tip-off from community members in the area regarding the activities of the suspects in the area. They apprehended four suspects and also found the bags some of which were ready for export.
The RPC mentioned the Burundi nationals as Kibonese Golagoza (35), Nuru Athuman (32) and Benjamin Gregory Luvunduka (41), who are also residents of Morogoro. A Tanzanian national, Shukuru Mwakalebela (25), who lives at Stesheni in the region, was also nabbed.
According to Commander Matei, the suspects preserved the armadillo shells in 50kg bags and then packed them in 100 kg parcels that also contained beans. The RPC said three of the four suspects who are citizens of Burundi were also facing charges of entering the country without permission.
He said that all the suspects were undergoing interrogation and prosecution was expected to follow. However, RPC Matei said it was too early to talk about specific areas of the country where the animals were killed since the matter was still under investigation.
Armadillos are new world placental mammals with a leathery armour shell. The Chlamyphoridae and Dasypodidae are the only surviving families in the order Cingulata, part of the superorder Xenarthra, along with the anteaters and sloths.
The word armadillo means "little armoured one" in Spanish. Morogoro Natural Resources Officer, Mr Joseph Chuwa, said that one armadillo on average can have 60 to 100 shells that means the suspects in question killed 670 of them for the illegal business.
Mr Chuwa said the illegal business has been conducted in East and Central African countries in which its large market was in Asian countries.