Quantcast

World's Most Trafficked Mammal Lost More Than Half Its Range in Eastern China

Animals
2630ben / Getty Images

Pangolins, a type of scaly anteater considered the world's most trafficked wild mammal, have lost more than 50 percent of their range in eastern China, according to a study published Wednesday in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


Researchers from Beijing Forestry University, the Zoological Society of London and Imperial College, London focused on Chinese pangolins (Manis pentadactyla), which the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species lists as a critically endangered species, and found that their range had shrunk by 52.2 percent in eastern China between 1970 and 2016.

There are eight species of pangolins in Africa and Asia and they are hunted on both continents for food and for their unique scales, which are used in medicines, according to BBC News.

The Chinese pangolin can be found from Nepal's Himalayan foothills, then south through southern China to Taiwan and Hong Kong.

In response to their findings, the scientists urged the Chinese government to step up their conservation efforts of the mammals.

"Pangolins have been listed in the list of China's state key protected wild animals as level II," study authors Li Yang, Xiaofeng Luan and Minhao Chen of Beijing Forestry University told BBC News. "According to our research and previous research, we suggest that [the] protection level should change into level I."

The researchers used local historical documents, fauna records, scientific surveys from nature reserves, newspapers and scientific articles to assess changes to the Chinese pangolin's range in eastern China.

While the animals roamed more than 30.41 percent of eastern China in the 1970s, by the 2000s their range had shrunken to mountainous areas, especially the Wuyi Mountains.

The researchers also assessed the relative influence of climate change and human encroachment or poaching on the changes in range and found that direct human actions like poaching were responsible for its dramatic shrinking, according to Phys.org.

In fact, the researchers found that as the pangolin's range declined, their preferred habitats also increased in elevation, suggesting that they were fleeing the development of roads at lower altitudes that made it easier for humans to transport captured animals.

The researchers also made recommendations for how governments and communities could protect the animals on a local and regional level.

They suggested creating or expanding nature reserves and engaging local governments and communities in pangolin conservation efforts.

They noted that only 5.62 percent of the 51,268.4 square kilometers (approximately 19,794.8 square miles) that their research determined was the primary conservation area for pangolins was covered by existing reserves.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Emily Deanne

Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.

Read More Show Less
Kokia drynarioides, commonly known as Hawaiian tree cotton, is a critically endangered species of flowering plant that is endemic to the Big Island of Hawaii. David Eickhoff / Wikipedia

By Lorraine Chow

Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Frederick Bass / Getty Images

States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
A couple works in their organic garden. kupicoo / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristin Ohlson

From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A competitor in action during the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championships in Uummannaq, Greenland on April 9, 2001. Michael Steele / Allsport / Getty Images

Greenland is open for business, but it's not for sale, Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters after hearing that President Donald Trump asked his advisers about the feasibility of buying the world's largest island.

Read More Show Less
AFP / Getty Images / S. Platt

Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.

Read More Show Less
Newly established oil palm plantation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Hans Nicholas Jong

Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.

It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."

Read More Show Less