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Pangolins Finally Catch A Break As China Removes Scales From Medicine List

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Rachael Funnell

author

Rachael Funnell

Writer & Senior Digital Producer

Rachael is a writer and digital content producer at IFLScience with a Zoology degree from the University of Southampton, UK, and a nose for novelty animal stories.

Writer & Senior Digital Producer

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Vickey Chauhan/Shutterstock

Vickey Chauhan/Shutterstock

As the world’s most trafficked mammal, pangolins have had a rough deal. Harvested in Laos, Thailand, and India for their scales, which are falsely believed to carry medicinal properties, the animals have been hotly sought after by markets in China. Now, the country has removed pangolins from an official 2020 list of ingredients considered safe for use in traditional medicine, offering hope to conservationists currently campaigning to end global trade of the scaly anteater.

According to reports from WildAid, up to 200,000 pangolins are consumed each year in Asia for their meat but also their scales, which are thought to bring sexual and health benefits to those who consume them. The animals are trafficked both alive and dead and descaled for their valuable armor, 130 tons of which were seized in cross-border trafficking operations last year.

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As all species of pangolin face the threat of endangerment, including the functionally extinct Chinese pangolin, the delisting from the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) pharmacopeia is a vital step towards protecting these animals. The decision was made after China’s State Forestry and Grassland Administration (SFGA) increased the status of threatened pangolins to the highest level possible last week.

“I am very encouraged,” said Zhou Jinfeng, secretary-general of the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF), according to a report from The Guardian. “Our continuous efforts for several years have not been in vain.”

Pangolins, which have been at the center of many impassioned conservation projects in recent years, received special attention this year as they were considered a possible intermediate host for the novel Covid-19 coronavirus to pass from bats to humans. Although several trafficked animals seized by authorities were found to test positive for the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen, no concrete evidence has been found to demonstrate their role in the outbreak.

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[H/T: The Guardian]


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