They may not make headlines like tigers, elephants or rhinos, but Indian pangolins, the most trafficked mammal in the world are critically endangered and need as much protection as those better known mammals.
Last year, TRAFFIC’s study had found nearly 6000 pangolins in illegal wildlife trade in India during the period 2009-2017, closing to nearly 650 pangolins every year since 2009.
However, this is a conservative estimate as only a fraction of illegal wildlife trade is detected, and actual numbers are likely to be higher.
TRAFFIC’s study had also found the states of Manipur and Tamil Nadu as the hotspots for pangolin smuggling, based on the majority of seizures that took place.
Globally, pangolins are considered the most trafficked wild mammal and their meat is consumed as a delicacy and as a “tonic food” because of its unproven yet alleged medicinal properties.
Pangolin scales are traded in huge quantities for use in traditional Chinese medicines.
Hunting and trade in both the pangolin species is banned under India’s Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 while international trade is prohibited under CITES.
Despite this protection, the trade continues unabated threatening the future of species in the wild, the press release stated.
Pangolins often called scaly anteaters are considered farmer’s friends as they help to keep a check on populations of ants and termites and help improve soil quality.
Therefore, is it important that efforts are directed to stop poaching and smuggling of pangolins in India.
Superstition is killing these gentle animals. Unscrupulous witch doctors known as “tantriks” are responsible for the large-scale slaughter of these creatures due to superstition.
Pangolins are used in Chinese medicine and the meat is considered an exquisite delicacy.
Of its three main sub-species, the Chinese pangolin’s population has been in regular decline, down 94 percent over the past 60 years.
But it is the Indian pangolin that is suffering the swiftest decline.
The population of this animal is down by 80 percent in just the past five years, according to the WWF.