Pangolin conservation corrupted/immense losses explained.

By Dave Armstrong - 24 Feb 2015 9:35:1 GMT
Pangolin conservation corrupted/immense losses explained.

The giant pangolin is rarely seen, luckily, as its pan-African distribution is now drastically reduced, with demand from Asian restauranteurs! Giant pangolin image; Credit: © Shutterstock

To be eaten to extinction is the fate of many animal species, but the IUCN know what they’re talking about. Their last estimate of the 8 pangolin species made it clear that the misplaced popularity of these unique mammals is killing them off. They are the most illegally-traded mammal in the world, with one million killed per decade. While we have been praising some efforts to rehabilitate Manis javanica, it is very likely that our faith in people was misplaced. (See Guardian report, at end of story.)

There is a commercial trade ban and many nations’ laws have been changed, but the killing goes on. The focus is now on Africa where half of the species live, because the Asian animals are almost at rock-bottom. The co-chair of the IUCN Pangolin Group explains who and what is responsible: Our global strategy to halt the decline of the world’s pangolins needs to be urgently implemented. A vital first step is for the Chinese and Vietnamese governments to conduct an inventory of their pangolin scale stocks and make this publically available to prove that wild-caught pangolins are no longer supplying the commercial trade.

The trouble is that the pangolin’s meat, blood, tongue, the penis, of course, and other parts are all inexcusably linked to fads of Chinese medicine. The scales are just the most obviously-ludicrous example of misplaced faith in superstition. The ZSL (Zoological Society of London) have investigated the African dimension, which has rapidly assumed the scale of ivory and rhino horn exploitation. Demand there has to be somehow curtailed.

Manis pentadactyla is the Chinese pangolin, critically endangered like Manis javanica, while further afield the Indian and Philippine pangolins are becoming rare. The 4 African species such as the tree or white bellied pangolin. Manis (Phataginus) tricuspis, are now very Vulnerable, according to the IUCN. The giant pangolin (M. gigantea) is magnificent, at 140cm, (4ft 7ins) but this does not prevent the poachers, both for bush meat and the Chinese traders.

Sad recent news shows no cooperation from Vietnamese officialdom, who rescued illegally captured pangolins (Manis javanica), and then happily gave them to so-called wildlife rangers who sold them at great cost to restaurants, according to this Guardian report. The possibility that an animal can be killed at the table, with children watching, illustrates the gruesome likelihood that this Chinese-based practice will continue in these countries until total extinction. The most vigorous methods of prevention need to be applied immediately.