Pangolin’s are an intriguing and elusive species, and not only is their territory is under increasing pressure due to human activity, they are also the world’s most trafficked animal.
Pangolins have come under the spotlight in recent times, and not for happy reasons- in fact, it is because they are now the endangered species list and it’s due to humans. These strange looking creatures are pretty harmless, if you’ve not seen one (which is likely the case) they are somewhere between an ant-eater and an armadillo; a long snout for forage feeding, and long telescopic-type tail and a body literally covered by scales which look like a blend of tortoise shell and knight’s armour. If anything, their appearance is certainly intriguing. But it’s not their appearance which makes them hot property, but rather that they’re a valuable commodity to many Asian countries.
Pangolins are literally being eaten into extinction. It is estimated, that more than a million pangolins have been taken from the wild in the last 10 years; that’s one hundred thousand pangolins every year. If that number doesn’t make you uncomfortable then read on. First of all, it is illegal to trade in pangolins, even in Asia, yet this is the very region where the black market for exotic animals is thriving. Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy and is highly sought-after despite the ban on illegal trading. Pangolins are not only desired for their meat however, pangolin scales are used to treat a variety of ailments in Chinese medicine.
Much like rhino horn, the practice of trading pangolins is not only cruel but also unsustainable. Also, like rhino horn, there is no evidence that pangolin scales are beneficial for treating medical issues. Asian pangolin species have been decimated by Asia’s voracious appetite for this mammal, and now illegal traders are crossing over into Africa to feed the growing need. China and Vietnam are the two countries responsible for much of the trading, and due to this, eight of the known pangolin species are listed as nearing extinction.