Biodiversity Nepal
For the Future Generation

Pangolin: Racing Towards Extinction

Amidst the global ban, pangolins are heavily exploited.

Photo By Daily Sabah

Despite being protected by scales, Pangolins are not protected from racketeers. The threat to pangolins is driving the species towards imminent extinction. 

All the eight species of pangolins found across the globe are threatened with extinction because they are hunted for their scales and meat.

Historically, the demand and supply of pangolin were high particularly in Asia. And now Africa also joins the hand. In both of the regions, pangolins are have been exploited. Their numbers are going down on a consistent basis. Particularly in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

There are multiple beliefs of the pangolin scales that it promotes blood circulation and magnifies lactation in pregnant women, the meat is a tonic and medicine, the animal’s body part can be used to treat a wide range of physical and psychological conditions, etc.

 The worldwide circulation of such unscientific and baseless beliefs has skyrocketed the illegal trade of the species. The devastation has also been recognized to some extent, as a result, the species is now banned. 

The concern

Despite this, increasing volumes of pangolin are being seized each year. Just for instance between 2014 and 2018, hauls of pangolin scales increased tenfold.

Pangolin smuggled to China
Source: Global Times

African Wildlife Foundation in the year 2019 found that up to 2.7 million pangolins are poached every year making pangolins the most illegally trafficked mammals in the world. Over the past decade, more than one million pangolins were poached, that’s more than rhinos, elephants, and tigers combined. Zoological Society of London claims that ‘A pangolin is poached every 5 minutes.’ TIKTOK TIKTOK. 5 Minutes and an animal is gone. It’s a race towards extinction.

Recently two men were arrested in the Pretoria central business district for allegedly trying to sell a pangolin.

In February 2019, Malaysia raided pangolin meat facilities confiscating 29.8 tons of pangolins in the form of live and frozen animals. In 2019, Hong Kong customs officers said they seized 8,300kg of pangolin scales hidden inside the shipping container. The steps are being taken but is it enough?

Nepal is home to two species of pangolins: Chinese pangolin and Indian pangolin. Efforts of Nepali authority has also been praiseworthy. In the past five years, 56 animal smugglers have been arrested and 223.5 kg of scales have been confiscated, 4 live pangolins saved, one pangolin carcass and seven sets of pangolin skin have been collected.

Poaching has been a serious concern for the animal for decades. And, now, at this moment in time, without constructive intervention – in the form of strict laws and policies to monitoring-action-plans – the species might be on the verge of extirpation. 

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