China Increases Protections for Pangolins
by Theresa Machemer/Smithsonianmag.com
The Chinese government has taken two actions to protect pangolins, which are the most trafficked non-human mammals on the planet.
Pangolins now enjoy the same safeguards as pandas with a Class 1 rank under China’s wildlife protection laws, which prohibits all domestic trade and use of the animal, reports National Geographic’s Dina Fine Maron. In addition, the government’s 2020 list of approved ingredients for traditional medicines does not include pangolin scales.
Together, the two changes could be a big help for the scaled, housecat-sized insectivores. Of eight species of pangolins, three are considered “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the others are either endangered or vulnerable, Ben Wescott reports for CNN. But given the dire results of decades of wildlife trafficking, some experts wonder if the changes are too little too late.
Pangolin scales—which are made of keratin, the same material as fingernails—have been included on the traditional medicine ingredients list for decades, and they have been touted as a method to improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, treat lactation problems and treat arthritis.
Conservation group WildAid reports that last year, authorities seized over 130 tons of pangolin products, representing up to 400,000 animals.