#GS3 #Environment #Biodiversity 

Recently, China accorded the pangolin the highest level of protection and removed the scales of the endangered mammal from its list of approved traditional medicines. 

What is China’s latest decision? 

  • A report published on June 6 in the Health Times, a Chinese state-run publication, says that the State Forestry and Grassland Administration had issued a notice on June 5 upgrading its protection of pangolins and banning all commercial trade of the endangered mammal. 
  • The move came about after the 2020 edition of the “Chinese Pharmacopoeia” excluded traditional medicines made from four species, and also listed alternatives sourced from species which are not endangered, reported the Health Times. 
  • In February 2020, when the reports linking the transmission of the virus to wet markets in Wuhan emerged, China banned the consumption of wild animals, including pangolins, in an attempt to limit the risk of diseases being transmitted to humans from animals. 

Why is Pangolin trafficked? 

  • Eight species of the scaly insectivorous creatures are distributed across Asia and Africa. They have long been hunted for their meat and scales, which indigenous tribes in central and eastern India are also known to have worn as rings. Two of these species are found in 15 states in India, although their numbers are yet to be completely documented. 
  • The creatures are strictly nocturnal, repelling predators by curling up into scaly spheres upon being alarmed. The same defence mechanism however, makes them slow and easy to catch once spotted. 
  • Their alleged health benefits in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) prompted a booming illicit export of scales from Africa over the past decade. 

About Indian Pangolin  

  • India is home to two species of pangolin. While the Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) is found in northeastern India, the Indian Pangolin is distributed in other parts of the country as well as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. 
  • Both these species are protected and are listed under the Schedule I Part I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). 
  • IUCN status – ‘Endangered’ 
  • Commonly known as ‘scaly anteaters’, the toothless animals are unique, a result of millions of years of evolution. 
  • Pangolins evolved scales as a means of protection. When threatened by big carnivores like lions or tigers they usually curl into a ball. The scales defend them against dental attacks from the predators. 
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