Conservation 'Game-Changer': China Removes Pangolin Scales From Traditional Medicine List
"This is the single greatest measure that could be taken to save the pangolins," WildAid CEO Peter Knights told National Geographic. "This sends a clear message that there are alternatives in traditional Chinese medicine and so you don't need to use pangolins."
China raises protection for #pangolins by removing scales from medicine list.— WildAid (@WildAid) June 9, 2020
Campaigners hope the move will help end global trade in the scaly anteater, identified as a possible host for COVID-19. https://t.co/c0VaMVp80i pic.twitter.com/mFFq6I8Ulk
All eight species of pangolin are at risk from extinction. Tens of thousands are killed every year for their meat, which is considered a delicacy in China and Vietnam, and their scales, which are used for medicinal purposes. Three of the four species native to Asia are considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list, according to The Guardian.
The delisting of the pangolin from the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) pharmacopoeia comes a week after the State Forestry and Grassland Administration (SFGA) raised their protection status. They are now at Class 1, the highest conservation level also enjoyed by pandas, National Geographic pointed out. It means almost all domestic trade and use of the animals is now prohibited.
Trafficked pangolin scales confiscated in Cameroon. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters / CC BY 2.0
"This shows China's rapidly strengthened commitment to protecting wildlife," WildAid in Beijing chief representative Steve Blake told The Guardian of the two moves.
The delisting of the pangolin was not officially announced. Instead, it was first reported by China's Health Times newspaper.
"China will often intentionally let an announcement like this come out through the press rather than a formal announcement," Save Pangolins co-founder and Executive Director Paul Thompson told National Geographic.
He further told BBC News that the decision could be a "game changer" for pangolin conservation.
"We hope China's next move will be to enforce the regulations and work to change consumer behaviour," he said.
It’s been an exciting week of pangolin news with the announcement of stronger protections and the removal of their species from the official list of traditional Chinese medicines. https://t.co/KujtJ5nAOO— Save Pangolins (@SavePangolins) June 10, 2020
The change comes as the coronavirus pandemic has increased scrutiny of China's wildlife trade, and its trade in pangolins in particular.
The scaly animals have been found to carry a coronavirus strain similar to the one that causes COVID-19, and research is ongoing into whether or not trafficked pangolins enabled the virus to pass from another animal to humans, though no conclusions have yet been reached.
The specific wild animals sold at the Wuhan wet market where the pandemic is suspected to have started are not known, but 31 of 33 positive virus samples taken from the market were found in the wildlife area, The Guardian reported.
China banned the consumption of wild meat in response to the outbreak, but there are exceptions for medicine and fur, BBC News reported.
Lixin Huang, vice president of operations and China projects at the California Institute of Integral Studies, told National Geographic that international pressure following the pandemic, as well as the longer term efforts of wildlife advocacy groups, had prompted the pangolin's removal from the TCM.
"Coronavirus was another key trigger point," she said.
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By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.
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Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.
"It's easy to feel dwarfed in the context of such a global systemic issue," says psychologist Renée Lertzman.
She says that when people experience these feelings, they often shut down and push information away. So to encourage climate action, she advises not bombarding people with frightening facts.
"When we lead with information, we are actually unwittingly walking right into a situation that is set up to undermine our efforts," she says.
She says if you want to engage people on the topic, take a compassionate approach. Ask people what they know and want to learn. Then have a conversation.
This conversational approach may seem at odds with the urgency of the issue, but Lertzman says it can get results faster.
"When we take a compassion-based approach, we are actively disarming defenses so that people are actually more willing and able to respond and engage quicker," she says. "And we don't have time right now to mess around, and so I do actually come to this topic with a sense of urgency… We do not have time to not take this approach."
Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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