Finally, some good news for the besieged animal kingdom. The 182 nations present at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) unanimously agreed on a total ban on the international trade of all species of pangolin, an animal that has suffered greatly at the hands of the frequently illegal practice.
When the vote was announced, cheers and applause erupted at the summit in Johannesburg. If this ban is now enforced, it could signal the death knell for what has been referred to as a “$20 billion-a-year criminal enterprise.”
“This decision will help give pangolins a fighting chance,” said Dr Susan Lieberman of the Wildlife Conservation Society, as reported by The Guardian. “The world is standing up for the little guy with this pivotal decision. These species need extra protection and now they will get it.”
Pangolins are solitary animals that spend most of their time wandering around at night. Four species live in Africa, and another four live in Asia. They all have keratin-composed scale armor, and like hedgehogs, they can curl up into a ball when threatened. Using a honed sense of smell, they find and eat up a variety of insects, and when they’re sleepy, they nestle up in burrows or hollow trees.
All of them are already protected under numerous national and international laws, but this appears to have done very little to keep them safe. Prolific, overzealous hunting by humans that consider them as bushmeat or sources of medicine has severely reduced their population numbers.
Hang in there, little guy. Foto Mous/Shutterstock