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World’s most trafficked animal granted protection

Date: 24-Jun-20
Author: Liam Taylor

When threatened by predators, the pangolin will roll into a ball and use it's scales for protection. Image: string_bass_dave/cc © string_bass_dave/cc

When threatened by predators, the pangolin will roll into a ball and use it's scales for protection. Image: string_bass_dave/cc

China has officially removed pangolin scales from a list of approved traditional medicine ingredients and granted the pangolin protected status in a huge win for the species’ conservation.

Despite often being mistaken for reptiles, the pangolin is in fact a mammal covered in scales that protect the animal from predation. These scales have long been used in Chinese traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, but demand for these scales and pangolin meat skyrocketed in recent years the species’ longevity has come under increasing threat.

The pangolin is now regarded as the most trafficked mammal in the world and as of January this year all eight species of pangolin are threatened, with three listed as critically endangered, three listed as endangered and two listed as vulnerable. However, the Chinese government has now thrown the species a lifeline, granting pangolins the highest form of protection possible and removing all pangolin body parts from a list of ingredients approved for use in traditional medicine. 

“China’s commitment to increasing pangolin conservation efforts garners hope for their future,” said Paul Thomson, Executive Director and Co-Founder of non-government organisation Save Pangolins, in a statement.

“We support this move which acknowledges more is needed to protect pangolins in China. We hope future announcements will include a plan to phase out the use of pangolin scales in the use of traditional medicines.” 

Under the new protection status, the government will allocate more resources to monitoring pangolin populations in the wild, increase patrols to prevent poaching, and strengthen protection of their habitat. In conjunction, a wider education program for the greater public will be rolled out about the status of pangolins as an endangered species.


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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia. Joining the communications team at Planet Ark, he hopes to inspire positive environmental behaviour through effective and positive messaging.

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