Tens of thousands of pangolins (spiny anteaters) are illegally killed and transported to market each year because of ancient beliefs in the power of their meat and scales to heal. Pangolins are endangered around the world, from Africa to Asia; they are prized for use in traditional medicine and rituals, perhaps because their appearance resembles armor. Their scales are used in traditional medicine and their meat is prized as a delicacy. In China, pangolin fetus soup is thought to confer male virility.
As with so many endangered species, it is easy to blame the poachers for the pangolins’ plight, but the trick is to reduce demand. In Asia, demand comes from China, where laws against the creatures’ illegal import and use are not enforced. A petition has been posted on Care2 to ask Chinese officials to enforce the laws on illegal import and sale of the endangered creatures.
The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature, Species Survival Commission) Pangolin Specialist Group was re-formed earlier this year to increase the species’ protection. Unfortunately, pangolins are slow moving and make for easy hunting. This heart breaking video shows nearly 100 pangolins rescued by authorities in Thailand last year that were caught to be sold as food, presumably to China.
Worldwatch institute this month quoted a Chinese wildlife official on the increase in pangolin scale value: “A kilogram of pangolin scales that earned only 80 yuan (US$10) in the early 1990s would now yield 1,200 yuan ($175) on the black market.”
Sign the Care2 petition asking the Chinese government to enforce laws against illegal importation of pangolins. Once you have signed, please spread the word and ask your networks to participate in this cause.