Chinese NGO Suggests An Upgrade of the Protection Status of Pangolin to Class I

The pangolin is a small ant-eating mammal found in Asia. Its skin is covered completely with keratin scales, which are in huge demand in China.
Photo Credit: Visual China Group

“It’s an important time for us to strengthen the protection for pangolin,” China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) claimed in its proposal suggesting a conference for the Chinese annual meeting of Parliament. It suggested raising pangolin’s protection status to Class I and abolishing medicinal uses of pangolin scales.

According to the suggestion, pangolin, though listed as a Class II protected animal in China, is still considered the “hottest” mammal in the global illegal trade. Such popularity is due to the great market demand for pangolin’s nutritional and medicinal values, which generate a huge economic benefit.

In the past decade, at least 1 million pangolins were subjected to poaching and illegal trade. Experts predicted that the pangolin species will become extinct worldwide within 5 to 10 years if we did nothing to protect them.

China is one of the biggest destination countries for the illegal pangolin trade. According to a report by TRAFFIC in 2016 (with incomplete data from 2007 to August 2016), Chinese law enforcement had handled 209 illegal trading cases involving pangolin, which meant nearly 90,000 pangolins had been killed and smuggled in illegally.

The horrible number of illegal trades comes from the huge market demand for and profitability of pangolins. Even some local government officials are among the consumers of pangolins. In 2015, a Chinese local official ate pangolin meat in a private feast, which was exposed to the public 2 years later and caused great outrage on the Internet.

Alongside the nutritional value, the healing properties of pangolin scales are also what people are after. However, since 2012, there is plenty of evidence in studies of modern Chinese medicine showing that pangolin scales are mainly made of keratin, which renders their medicinal value highly questionable.

All information comes from

Translated by Hengyu Du

Edited by Andrea Jia and Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue

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