Pangolin searching for ants

512705258

Pangolin searching for ants

Photo by: 2630ben

2630ben

Pangolins, World's Most Trafficked Animal, May Finally Be Safe

By: Lucy Sherriff

China is removing one of the world’s most trafficked animals, the pangolin, from its list of animals used for traditional medicine.

July 21, 2020

Activists have long been calling for an end to pangolins being trafficked. Tens of thousands are poached every year, and one million pangolins are believed to have been trafficked between 2000 and 2013 alone. Pangolins are mammals, despite being covered in scales, and grow to around the size of a house cat.

Most trafficked animal - The Pangolin

675014092

Most trafficked animal - The Pangolin

Photo by: Daniel Haesslich

Daniel Haesslich

They use those scales to protect themselves from predators in the wild, but in Asia, these same scales are coveted for medicine. Their scales are made of keratin, the same material found in fingernails, rhino horns, and traditional Chinese medicine.

In China, they are used in medicine as they are believed to improve blood circulation and reduce inflammation. “The animal itself is eaten, but a greater danger arises from the belief that the scales have medicinal value. Fresh scales are never used--but dried scales can be roasted with earth of oyster shells, ashed, or cooked in oil, butter, vinegar, boy's urine to cure a variety of ills,” according to a scientific study in Nature, which was published as far back as 1938. “Amongst these [ills] are excessive nervousness and hysterical crying in children, women possessed by devils and ogres, malarial fever, and deafness.”

Officers show pangolin scales seized from poachers at the  the Natural Resources Conservation Center (BBKSDA) Riau office in Pekanbaru, Riau Province , Indonesia, on June 12, 2020.  Indonesia authorities  confiscated 14 Kilograms pangolins Scales (Manis Javanica) from ilegal trade. (Photo by Afrianto Silalahi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

1219480910

Officers show pangolin scales seized from poachers at the the Natural Resources Conservation Center (BBKSDA) Riau office in Pekanbaru, Riau Province , Indonesia, on June 12, 2020. Indonesia authorities confiscated 14 Kilograms pangolins Scales (Manis Javanica) from ilegal trade.

Photo by: NurPhoto

NurPhoto

Officers show pangolin scales seized from poachers at the the Natural Resources Conservation Center (BBKSDA) Riau office in Pekanbaru, Riau Province , Indonesia, on June 12, 2020. Indonesia authorities confiscated 14 Kilograms pangolins Scales (Manis Javanica) from ilegal trade.

Last year, authorities seized more than 130 tons of pangolin-related products, a figure believed to represent as many as 400,000 of the animals, according to WildAid conservation group. There are eight species of pangolin found across Asia and Africa. Three of those are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature: the Chinese pangolin, the Philippine pangolin, and the Sunda pangolin. The remaining five are listed as either vulnerable or endangered.

Now, three species – the Chinese, Suna, and Indian pangolins – have been afforded the same protection in China as the Giant Panda and have been upgraded from Class II to the highest Class I protection. There's a penalty of 10 imprisonment for anyone caught hunting, killing, smuggling or trading them.

993489754

Photo by: Fabian von Poser

Fabian von Poser

The announcement was made in June and was so monumental that the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement encouraging China to “take similar steps to respond to other endangered species and shut down high risk wildlife wet markets.” The Chinese government has also announced plans to restore the dwindling populations by ramping up field patrols and pushing habitat restoration efforts.

“China moved very quickly to close live wildlife markets and it is great news that they have now given their pangolins the same protected status as the panda,” said WildAid CEO Peter Knights. “We hope this accelerates an end to legal sales of pangolin scales as soon as possible.”

The conservation group also highlighted how the Covid-19 pandemic has placed a spotlight on the illegal trade in pangolins and flagged how some scientists have found a similar coronavirus strain in Sunda pangolins. “Whether pangolins prove to be the vector species in Covid-19 or not,” Knights adds, “trading and consuming them imposes a significant risk of the introduction of a new disease and we should move to eliminate this risk as quickly as possible.”

Next Up

Manatee’s Cousins Have Vanished from the Ocean

Dugongs, the peaceful ‘sea cows’ of the ocean have been declared functionally extinct in China. The vegetarian mammal has vanished from the coastlines of Asia and Africa.

The Oldest Complete Fish Fossil was Discovered Thanks to Kung Fu

Back in 2019, three Chinese paleontologists were playfighting during a break from working in the Chongqing Province, China. One was kung-fu kicked into a rocky outcrop, causing rubble to tumble down and exposing an opening in the rock face. Inside, a spectacular fossil lay undisturbed, preserved for millions of years.

Why the Long Face? Extinct Headbutting Relatives Reveal Giraffes' Neck Evolution

Pioneered by Darwin, giraffes have been used as a classic example of how animals adapt and evolve. Giraffe’s long-neck evolution has long been attributed to foraging for sustenance in the high canopy, now researchers argue that selection for head-butting combat played a role in the long length of giraffe necks.

Galápagos Giant Tortoises Are Mysteriously Turning Up Dead in Ecuador

Despite the tough protections, there has been a spate of tortoises killed in recent months, and officials fear the animals have been slaughtered for their meat.

Supertrees That Suck Up More Carbon Could Be Forest Climate Fix

Forestation and tree growth are perhaps the most powerful tool for reducing levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth’s atmosphere and tackling climate change. Now genetically modified (GM) ‘supertrees’ that grow faster and rapidly take up CO2 could be used to address the climate crisis.

Are Whale Sharks Now the World’s Largest Omnivore?

A new study finds that whale sharks are the biggest omnivore, disproving previous research on whale sharks’ diets. Researchers were stunned when analyzing whale shark biopsy samples that contained lots of plant material as well as krill material.

Helping the Los Angeles River Change Course

As a human trying to commute from Long Beach to Downtown Los Angeles to the hills of Pasadena, you probably already know that you’ll be making your way on infamous, traffic-clogged roads filled with obstacles to be avoided.

Is Climate Change Killing More Elephants than Poachers?

Kenya’s Wildlife and Tourism Board has announced that climate change is now a bigger threat to elephant populations than poaching. Kenya is currently facing an extreme drought that is threatening the livelihoods of people and wildlife within the area.

Channel Islands: A Tale of Two Worlds

Channel Islands National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the United States, yet it is only about 20 miles from the coast of Los Angeles and the bustling surf and sand lifestyle of Southern California.

Saving Hawaii’s Native Species

Not so very long ago, Hawaii was a remote island, populated solely by endemic flora and fauna–and its native inhabitants. Now, however, it is known throughout the world as a must-visit tourist destination, while Americans have moved to the islands in their masses, buying up beachfront properties.