It is not only rhinos, elephants or tigers that are about to disappear even though their situation is serious. Other animals less newsworthy suffer the same fate, which is the case for the pangolin, a little scaly mammal!
What is a Pangolin ?
Only located in tropical and subtropical areas from Africa and Asia, this mammal with currently 8 species weighs from 2 to 35 kg and measures between 30 and 80 cm.
Thanks to their giant sticky tongue they only eat termites and ants (up to 70 million a year!). They search termite nests, elephants’ excrements, fallen leaves, trunks bases, grass and bushes looking for their feast!
Too little known this armored knight knows how to defend itself against most of his predators. Surrounded by his thick carapace, he folds back on himself to avoid danger. He becomes untouchable (even felines get tired of it!). Unfortunately for him, he can only reproduce once a year with a gestation period going from 6 to 8 months!
A too popular dish
Hunted in Asia until 2000 for their leather, destined to Japan or the US, this trade stopped. Indeed, the CITES ended it for Asian pangolins from which 2 species are critically endangered.
But the trade doesn’t stop there, his flesh is now the focus of men. In China and Vietnam, pangolin has become a luxury dish, the price can go up to 3000 dollars for 4 kilos! The worst comes from how this little mammal is killed. A “good” cook would cut the animal’s throat in front of the clients to collect the blood (it is then eaten in a soup and pudding), the pangolin is then boiled, grilled or fried.
Alas, as sad of a truth it is, it is written in Appendix II of the CITES which is to « protect » him since 1994, the pangolin remains one of the most poached mammal group. In fact, according to IFAW (International fund for Animal Welfare), over 1?12 million of pangolins are victims of poaching, that’s 120 000 animals killed per year!
An imaginary medecine
Outre l’aspect culinaire, cet adorable mammifère est braconné pour ses écailles. Selon
Besides the culinary aspect, this adorable mammal is poached for his scales. According to urban legends, they are used to fight against water retention, asthma or even enhance the blood circulation (might as well say anything). According to Vietnam’s Wildlife, “14% of Vietnamese eat pangolin meat and 5% use its scales for medicine […] When a child gets sick, his parents suggest eating pangolin rather than modern medicine”.
Let’s remember that pangolins’ scales only contain keratin protein and that their medical virtues have never been proven and will probably never be.
Over 650 specimens were found frozen, late August, on Java island in Indonesia. Even bigger, a seizure of 4.4 tons of scales were discovered by Hong Kong authority on a cargo from Cameroun in June 2016, the offense is estimated to 1.13 million euros.
What is the future?
The 17th Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora opened on September 24th in Johannesburg in South Africa. Over 200 countries decide on looser of tougher laws on over 500 species. This year, the pangolin is on every mind. The stake: put this mammal on Appendix I of CITES. This decision would simply prohibit the trade of the animal.