It is a great day for pangolins as China has just removed the mammals from their official list of traditional Chinese medicine treatments!
Pangolins are traditionally found in Asia. For years they were highly sought after due to their scales and their meat. Their scales are keratin, and as a result, they were frequently used in Chinese traditional medicine for various treatments. They were used to treat anxiety, hysteria in children, malarial fever, and deafness. The pangolin scales were even used to treat women who were believed to be possessed by devils or ogres.
In addition to these beliefs, the pangolin scales were also believed to help unblock blood clots, promote blood circulation, and help lactating women produce milk. Furthermore, there was also the belief that those humans who ingested the pangolin scales would be protected since the pangolin animal itself is protected from attack by its scales. While the scales were quite revered in traditional medicine, the pangolin’s meat was viewed as a delicacy.
However, as the Chinese newspaper, Health Times, reported, now that the pangolin’s status of protection has been raised within China, it is no longer allowed to be placed on the list traditional medicinal remedies.
It is also believed that the pangolin is the most trafficked animal on the planet. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, it is thought that the pangolin makes up 20% of the world’s illegal wildlife trade.
The conservation group, Save Pangolins, was elated by the news. In response to the announcement, Paul Thomson of Save Pangolins said, “China’s move to phase out pangolin scales from traditional medicines could be the game-changer we have been waiting for. We hope China’s next move will be to enforce the regulations and work to change consumer behavior.”
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It’s been an exciting couple of days for pangolins. First, it was announced that the government of China would be upgrading the protection status of Chinese and Sunda pangolins to National Level 1, the highest level of protection in the country. And if that wasn’t remarkable enough, it was also announced that pangolins would be removed from the list of approved ingredients in traditional medicine. The news is still developing and the details are being clarified but no matter what, it’s been interesting days for our favorite animal the pangolin. #pangolin #wildlife #wildlifenews #conservation #China #endangeredspecies
Earlier this year, China did pass the banning of wild animal trade and sale. However, there were some exceptions to the ban, mostly coming from animals who were tied to the fur or medical industries.
Pangolins are not animals that do well in captivity. While there have been previous attempts at helping to boost their numbers through captivity breeding, they haven’t been all that successful since the mammal requires both a wide-ranging habitat and a very specific diet. Furthermore, there have been attempts to farm pangolins in order to prevent them from getting illegally traded, but these too have been unsuccessful.
Pangolins have a fragile immune system because of genetic dysfunction. This means that they can experience a very rapid decline in health when they’re placed in new or unfamiliar environments. These animals have also been shown to be quite susceptible to pneumonia and ulcers. Worse yet, conservationists rescuing illegally traded pangolins have also noticed that these animals are more likely to be infested with parasites such as intestinal worms.
There are eight species of pangolins and they all range from vulnerable to critically endangered. Their conservation status has also been a topic of focus for researchers lately as well – mainly because they’re suspected to be partly responsible for the COVID-19 outbreak.
While there have been many studies that name the bat to be the original coronavirus source, scientists believe that there was another animal responsible as the link for passing it from bats onto humans. And there are those scientists who suspect that the pangolin was possibly that link.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.