China has granted pangolins protected status and removed their scales from a list of approved medicine ingredients
The world’s most trafficked animal has been thrown a lifeline by the Chinese government, which has granted pangolins the highest form of protection and removed their body parts from a list of ingredients approved for use in Chinese medicine.
Covered in scales that protect the animals from predation, pangolins have been pushed towards extinction because of demand for these scales, which are used in Chinese medicine.
The Chinese government has now dropped pangolin scales from an official list of sanctioned medicine ingredients and has upgraded the protection status of the Chinese and Sunda pangolins to National Level I, which is the same level as the giant panda.
“China’s commitment to increasing pangolin conservation efforts garners hope for their future,” said Paul Thomson, executive director and co-founder of Save the Pangolins.
The pangolin’s new protective status is effective immediately and follows an announcement in March that China was banning the hunting, trade, transportation and consumption of all terrestrial wild animals whether captive-bred or wild caught, where the end purpose is to eat.
The ban followed the outbreak of coronavirus, which is believed to have originated at a wet market in Wuhan. Scientists are investigating whether trafficked pangolins may have played a role in the virus moving from animals to humans.
China’s commitment to increasing pangolin conservation efforts garners hope for their future
“The increased protection coupled with the swift and comprehensive closure of live wildlife markets and removal of many wild species from the list of what can be consumed as food in China were already very positive steps to saving the pangolin worldwide and reducing the possibility of them ever being a vector for disease,” said WildAid CEO Peter Knights.
“Now this announcement, effectively closing the legal sales of pangolin scales, shuts the last major loophole in pangolin protection efforts.”
Pangolins have the dubious distinction of being the most trafficked wild mammal in the world and with Asia’s native species being pushed towards extinction, an increase in shipments from Africa has emerged.
Image: Gregg Yan/Creative Commons