Pangolins are beautiful and gentle animals that have roamed the Earth for 80 million years. They are the only mammal in the world that is completely covered in scales. Pangolins do not have teeth, and they feed on on ants and termites.
Due to the unfortunate superstition in Asian cultures that Pangolin flesh, scales, fetuses, and body parts have medicinal properties, they have become the world’s most trafficked animal.
In China alone, 200,000 pangolins were estimated to be killed between 2011 and 2013. Pangolin fetuses are in high demand, as they are believed to enhance virility and are often prepared served whole in restaurants.
While ivory can be easily recognizable, pangolins are usually killed, skinned, and frozen before being sold.
Even though law enforcement efforts have improved in Asia over the years with a rise in pangolin seizures reported, there is so much to be done in order to protect these magnificent and highly endangered creatures.
Pangolin are considered an endangered species in Zimbabwe, Malawi and South Africa because there is a demand for their meat and scales.
In order to save them from extinction:
• National wildlife laws need to be improved to incorporate stricter penalties for traffickers.
• Cross border intelligence-led investigations need to be enhanced to identify and shutdown the international and organised criminal networks involved in the smuggling of pangolins.
• Weaknesses that prevent arrests, prosecutions and convictions must be addressed.
This month Chinese authorities have started discouraging people from eating the Pangolins as well as teaching general public that parts of this animal have absolutely no medicinal value. We welcome China’s efforts to help stop the mass killing of these animals, but unfortunately if stricter laws and protections are not immediately enforced, there won’t be another World Pangolin Day to celebrate.