Wildlife forensics helps the cause of pangolins

#GS3 #Environment&Ecology

  • Pangolins, despite being listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 continue to be the world’s most trafficked mammal. 
  • The primary demand for its scales in the making of traditional East Asian medicines has led to an estimated illegal trade worth $2.5 billion every year. 
  • To enforce the appropriate national and international laws and to track the decline of the species, researchers of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Kolkata, have now developed tools to tell apart the scales of Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) and Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla).
  • Though the Chinese pangolin is distributed mostly in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, the northeastern part of our country is also its home. The population is already limited as it has a limited geographical range, low fecundity with just one offspring a year. It is also facing pressure due to habitat degradation and is prone to local extinction. 

Pangolin

  • There are eight species of pangolin. 
  • Both Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) and the Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) are found in India.

Habitat

  • Except for the arid region, high Himalayas and the North-East, Indian Pangolin is widely distributed in India, 
  • Pangolins can also be found in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
  • Chinese Pangolin is mostly found in the Himalayan foothills in Eastern Nepal, Bhutan, Northern India, North-East Bangladesh and Southern China.

Threat 

  • Hunting and poaching for local consumptive use (e.g. as a protein source and traditional medicine) and international trade for its meat and scales in East and South-East Asian countries, particularly China and Vietnam.

IUCN Red List

  • Indian Pangolin: Endangered
  • Chinese Pangolin: Critically Endangered
  • Both these species are listed under Schedule I, Part I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
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