OLIVIA AMEZCUA WRITES– There are currently eight known species of pangolins – four listed as critically endangered by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the other four categorized as vulnerable, and all eight face declining populations. It is reported that about 300 pangolins are killed every day, meaning one pangolin killed every 5 minutes. Sadly, this is because pangolins are the target of poachers.
It has been reported that 116,990 to 233,980 pangolins were murdered just between 2011 and 2013. Pangolin meat is sold to the Chinese and Vietnam elite as a delicacy, and the keratin-rich scales of pangolins are often dried and turned into a powder to be used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Another bust, earlier this April in Singapore, revealed nearly 26 tons of pangolin scales, proving the horrific reality of the issue. It has been revealed that 38,000 endangered pangolins were murdered to provide these 26 tons of scales. Singapore authorities first seized 12.9 tons of pangolin scales on April 3rd, when they uncovered a container on its way from Nigeria to Vietnam under the guise of “frozen beef.”
It should be noted that 390 pounds of elephant ivory was also discovered in the container shipment. The following week, the rest of the pangolin scales were seized – packed into 474 bags. This second shipment was being transported from Nigeria to Vietnam, but this time the pangolin scales were labeled as “cassia seeds.”
Worry of increased pangolin poaching has intensified for many wildlife groups and activists now that the World Health Organization has put its economic stamp of approval on traditional medicine. Remember: pangolin scales are primarily purchased for traditional Chinese medicine practices. Consequently, blithely promoting ‘traditional medicine’ also promotes the purchase of pangolin scales for such usage.
Global Wildlife adviser Neil D’Cruze said, “The World Health Organization recently endorsed traditional medicine and the industry appears keen to grow this market outside of China, Vietnam and beyond. This is an alarming move for some wildlife species such as pangolins as it poses a real conservation and animal welfare threat.”
With the future not looking very bright for these little guys, let’s all join the fight against the abuse of innocent animals! The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) makes this an easy feat. First, sign the pledge to stop wildlife crime. Second, adopt a pangolin. Well… symbolically at least. By “adopting” a pangolin your donation will be put towards WWF’s conservation efforts and you will receive a cute pangolin plush along with other goodies.