You have probably never heard of the pangolin, the only mammal that has scales and a tongue as long as its body. Today, this particular living being is in danger of extinction because of the human being.
The pangolin is a mammal with an elongated body, with the head, back and tail protected by hard and pointed scales that can bristle, mainly when they are made into a ball to protect themselves from a threat.
Its snout is pointed and it has a very long, sticky tongue that it uses to eat ants and termites. It lives in Africa and Asia where, unfortunately, its scales are used in traditional medicine and to prepare home remedies to treat a variety of ailments such as asthma, rheumatism and arthritis.
In addition, the scales are made of keratin, the same material that is used for hair and nail treatments. In fact, they are used decoratively for rituals and jewelry.
And as if that weren't enough, it is hunted to sell their meat, considered a delicacy. So much so, that government authorities and wealthy businessmen are the ones who ask the animal to prove its status or to enter into an agreement.
But despite the fact that the eight species of pangolin are protected by national and international laws, this is not enough to stop the illegal international traffic of this living being, which has increased in recent years due to the growing demand.
Today is considered the most illegally traded mammal in the world and one species that is at high risk of extinction: about 100,000 pangolins a year are captured and sent to China and Vietnam.
A real event that reveals what is happening
A video pertaining to an undercover investigation carried out for two years by the NGO World AnimalProtection and WildCRU (Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford)reveals the hard time a pangolin went through to be sold on the black market in Assam, northeast India.
The shocking recording shows how a pangolin tried to hide from the captors. The animal tried to take refuge in a tree that was cut down in order to capture it, but since they could not do it, they decided to light a fire to attack it with the smoke. The cruelty continued until they managed to make it their own, and in this way, they achieved their goal and then sold it on the illegal market.
However, this fact was not the only one that allowed me to verify the difficult situation that pangolins are going through. Members of the NGO and the university interviewed 140 local hunters, who argued that pangolins are a great target since they are highly hunted for their scales: with just one pangolin, hunters get the equivalent of four months' salary.
In turn, they demonstrated not being aware of the role they play in the international illegal trade of the species due to the benefits they obtain.
What does World AnimalProtection ask to protect the pangolin?
World Animal Protection works tirelessly for prevent animal cruelty all over the world. Certainly the illegal hunting and trafficking of pangolins has been tracked, but the cruel manner in which they are hunted has been relatively overlooked.
To combat the worldwide trafficking of pangolin bodies and scales, and to protect them from the exacerbated suffering to which they are subjected, we ask:
- That national and international laws apply.
- That pangolins be removed from the Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China, the traditional medicine manual used by everyone who works in the industry.
- Invest in the production and promotion of synthetic and herbal alternatives.
- That governments, NGOs and the traditional Asian medicine community make combined and coordinated efforts to eliminate the demand for traditional medicines made from pangolin, especially in China and Vietnam.
- That the search for alternative ways of life, the alleviation of poverty and the implementation of educational programs in rural communities throughout the world where there are pangolins are supported to stop this slaughter.