The Pangolin situation is getting worse and worse every day. For most of the people, rhinos, elephants, tigers might come to mind when thinking of hunted or trafficked animals. But sadly, not many people are aware of the fact that pangolins are the world’s most illegally trafficked mammal.
Around 300 pangolins are poached daily and marketed in black markets of China and Vietnam. Their meat and scales fetch a good price in the Asian market. Their scales are believed to treat diseases like asthma and arthritis where in reality they are just made of keratin, the same stuff that makes up our hair and nails.
Pangolins are solitary nocturnal animals covered with their armour of scales from tip to tail. They look like a pokemon. To avoid predators, they curl up into a ball covering their heads with their front legs and exposing their scales. It’s one of the most defining characteristics of pangolins, also known as the scaly anteaters. That is also the reason that they are easily caught. As they do not put up a fight and curl up to defend themselves, its easier to lift them.
There are eight species of pangolins found in Asia and Africa, most of them endangered and the Chinese pangolins are critically endangered.
A ban on the pangolin trade was implemented in 2016 but there is no significant change in their vanishing population. Not many people are aware of their existence and that makes it even more difficult to put an end to their plight.
Their scales are sold at 360 Euros per kilogram in the black market, which is a lot as they are fairly easy to catch. Rich people usually buy their meat and it’s considered a delicacy for many, some showcase their scales as a status symbol. They die quickly after they are caught. Even if they are given proper food (they generally eat insects), they do not eat. Many are found stacked below the decks illegally on the ships to China. Recently, a dead pangolin was found in the possession of some traffickers in the state of Karnataka, India. According to law, they are entitled to 3 years in prison but currently, they are out on bail.
The failure on the part of locals as well as authorities to take such matters seriously is making the life of these harmless creatures even more miserable than it already is. There is definitely a need for strong laws and their implementation in the world. We can’t let the lesser known species go extinct. We, humans, may think ourselves superior to others but in nature, every life matters.