Illegal trade threatens pangolins

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has changed the status of the Malayan and the Chinese pangolin from near-threatened to endangered. The notoriously shy nocturnal mammals -- resembling anteaters with armoured plates -- have become the victims of a booming illegal wildlife trade in southeast Asia.


Malayan pangolin are caught by smugglers largely in Malaysia and Indonesia, then shipped to the black market in China where they are eaten or used for traditional medicine to cure toxicosis, inflammation and rheumatic pain.


According to the wildlife organisation TRAFFIC, there have been approximately 24 incidents of pangolin confiscations or smuggler arrests in the past year, making pangolins the most commonly confiscated mammals in seizures of illegally traded animals in Southeast Asia. Although exact population numbers are not known, the IUCN suspects that both Malayan and Chinese pangolins have declined by 50% in the last 15 years.


There are eight species of pangolin worldwide, four each in east Asia and Africa.


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