tubbataha reef aground fishing vessel

A Chinese fishing vessel that ran aground in Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site, on Monday is pictured in Palawan Province, west of Manila April 10, 2013 in this picture provided by Naval Forces West. REUTERS/ Naval Forces West

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has uncovered 400 boxes of butchered anteaters from a cargo hold of the Chinese fishing vessel that ran aground on Tubbataha Reef last week.

In a statement, the PCG said that the boxes of frozen anteaters were discovered by salvage crews attempting to refloat the distressed F/V Ming Long Yu. The statement added that the anteaters had already been butchered and dressed.

As we reported last week, the F/V Ming Long Yu ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef on April 8, just ten days after the final section of the former USS Guardian was removed from the reef. The 12 Chinese fishermen who were rescued from the vessel were later booked by Philippine authorities on charges of poaching.

The Philippine Star points out that scaly anteaters, which are locally known as balintong, are a protected species in the Philippines and are believed to be used by Chinese for medicine. Scales of the anteaters can fetch as much as $114 per kilo.

Investigators are currently in the process of determining where the anteaters came from.

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