Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

The Battle to Save the Endangered and Heavily Poached Pangolin

The Battle to Save the Endangered and Heavily Poached Pangolin

It’s a cat-sized, ant and termite-eating machine, a highly specialized mammal with a more than foot-long tongue that helps it to play a uniquely important role in ecosystems due to its ability to consume tens of millions of insects a year.

Tens of thousands of pangolins are poached annually and at least 26,000 imports of pangolin products were seized in the U.S. between 2004 and 2013.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Armored with rows of hexagonal scales, the pangolin can roll into ball, protecting it from even the most ferocious tiger. But the same defensive trick makes it easy prey for poachers, putting it on track to disappear before much of the world knows it exists.

Coveted in Vietnam and China as a delicacy and for its completely unfounded curative powers for everything from infertility to cancer, the pangolin is likely the world’s most illegally trafficked mammal.

Once found across much of Asia and Africa, the best-available research indicates some pangolin species have declined up to 50 percent in recent years. Just last week, smugglers were caught in Indonesia with more than a ton of dead pangolins, an increasingly familiar scene in an era when 1 kilogram of pangolin scales can fetch $600.

Tens of thousands of pangolins are poached annually and at least 26,000 imports of pangolin products were seized in the U.S. between 2004 and 2013. Yet, only one of eight pangolin species is protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

To change that, this week a coalition of wildlife groups—including the Center for Biological DiversityBorn Free USA, Humane Society International, Humane Society of the United States and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), petitioned the U.S. government to protect all pangolins as “endangered.”

That protection would prohibit all pangolin trade in the U.S., except to promote species conservation, and would heighten global awareness.

The need is pressing: Without increased protections, researchers predict some pangolin species will go extinct within a decade.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

‘Bee’ the Solution

Extreme Heat Triggers Sex Change in Lizards

Busted: ‘SeaWorld Employee Infiltrated Animal Rights Group PETA’

Lakota spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse attends a demonstration against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 28, 2015. Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is planning to cancel the controversial Keystone XL pipeline on the first day of his administration, a document reported by CBC on Sunday suggests.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst stand at the Orion spacecraft during a visit at the training unit of the Columbus space laboratory at the European Astronaut training centre of the European Space Agency ESA in Cologne, Germany on May 18, 2016. Ina Fassbender / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

By Monir Ghaedi

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of Europe on pause, the EU aims for a breakthrough in its space program. The continent is seeking more than just a self-sufficient space industry competitive with China and the U.S.; the industry must also fit into the European Green Deal.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A new species of bat has been identified in West Africa. MYOTIS NIMBAENSIS / BAT CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL

In 2018, a team of researchers went to West Africa's Nimba Mountains in search of one critically endangered species of bat. Along the way, they ended up discovering another.

Read More Show Less
Seabirds often follow fishing vessels to find easy meals. Alexander Petrov / TASS via Getty Images

By Jim Palardy

As 2021 dawns, people, ecosystems, and wildlife worldwide are facing a panoply of environmental issues. In an effort to help experts and policymakers determine where they might focus research, a panel of 25 scientists and practitioners — including me — from around the globe held discussions in the fall to identify emerging issues that deserve increased attention.

Read More Show Less
A damaged home and flooding are seen in Creole, Louisiana, following Hurricane Laura's landfall on August 27, 2020. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Elliott Negin

What a difference an election makes. Thanks to the Biden-Harris victory in November, the next administration is poised to make a 180-degree turn to again address the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less