February 20, 2021: As the world marks, pangolins are now the most traded mammal in the world, surpassing elephants and rhinos.
They are poached for use in traditional medicines for their scales and flesh, although there is no scientific evidence that their body parts have medicinal value.
According to a report by World Animal Protection, “Suffering on a Large Scale – Pangolin Poaching for Traditional Medicine Trade,” it is believed that more than a million pangolins have been killed and mostly traded for traditional medicine in the last decade alone.
Between 2010 and 2015, there were 1,270 pangolin attacks in 67 countries and territories around the world. This included 120 tons of body parts, whole animals and another 46,000 individual carcasses.
The report documents the cruel and gruesome manner in which pangolins are poached and slaughtered. They are hunted and cruelly slaughtered for their scales and meat.
“Pangolins suffer inconceivable suffering when smoked and pulled out of their trees and caves, beaten with clubs and arrows, and then boiled, sometimes alive for their scales. The excavation can take hours and the animals can be exposed to stress and terror for many hours. “Says Edith Kabesiime, campaign manager at World Animal Protection.
To combat global trade in their bodies and dandruff, and protect pangolins from the unimaginable suffering they endure, World Animal Protection calls for the following:
- Strongly enforcing national and international laws to protect them.
- Investing in and promoting herbal and synthetic medicine.
- Combined and coordinated efforts by governments, NGOs and practitioners of traditional Asian medicine, particularly in China and Vietnam.
- Support for alternative livelihoods and education in communities where pangolins exist.
- Removal of pangolins from the definitive traditional medicine handbook for everyone in the industry.
Facts about pangolins
Pangolins are nocturnal animals in Africa and Asia. They are shy, burrowing mammals covered in hard, overlapping scales. They are very important for the control of the ecosystem. It is estimated that an adult pangolin can consume more than 70 million insects annually. Their constant habit of digging also aids the decomposition cycle and vegetation growth, and their burrows are occupied by many other species as well.
Because of their very poor reproductive performance, they are particularly prone to overuse. They give birth to one and rarely two offspring each year and, depending on the species, have a generation duration of between seven and nine years. This, of course, means that their ability to recover from such high poaching rates is nearly impossible. Their ability to quickly roll into a tight ball when threatened also makes them more vulnerable to poachers.