They’re the most poached and illegally trafficked animals in the world — more than rhinos, elephants, and tigers combined.
Now, pangolins have finally been granted protected status in China by having their scales removed for the list of approved medicine ingredients.
There’s a high demand for pangolin body parts for medicinal use in China, Thailand, and Vietnam. Their scales, like rhino horns, have no proven medicinal value — yet they are used in traditional Chinese medicine for ailments ranging from anxiety to stomach ulcers to lactation difficulties to arthritis.
We repeat: Pangolin scales have no scientifically proven benefits. Do not eat pangolins or buy their scales.
Very little is known about pangolins’ biology, and this makes it difficult for conservation efforts. We do know that they almost always die in captivity.
The Chinese government has not only dropped their scales from its official list of sanctioned medicine ingredients … but it has also upgraded their protection status to National Level I. This is the same level of protection as giant pandas have.
We all know that laws don’t equal real protection for animals if people don’t follow them … or if the laws aren’t enforced. So whether pangolins’ newly protected status in China will help save the species remains to be seen.
But this new level of protection — along with China’s closure of the wildlife markets — is a positive step for pangolin conservation and gives us hope for their future.
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What do you think about the new protection for the pangolin? Leave a comment below.
(Cover image: Rich Lindie/Shutterstock)