In the 21st Century with all the wonders of modern medicine and science from robotic surgery to face, limb and organ transplants, functioning prosthetic limbs and cochlear implants not to mention vaccines it really is appalling that some people still believe that a piece of Keratin, hair, cartilage or ivory hacked from an endangered animal can have medicinal and magical properties.
There are eight species of pangolin: four found in Asia and four found in Africa. In both regions these mammals have traditionally been killed for their meat and scales which are said to have various medicinal properties from supposedly increasing blood circulation and lactation in pregnant women to treating physical and psychological disorders.
I’ve seen many animals in my travels but never a Pangolin. I have however sadly plunged my hands into a bag of seized pangolin scales and despaired at the loss of life. The scales resemble those found on fir cones and vary in size depending on where on the Pangolin they came from.
The numbers are shocking and we are decimating our planet for what? Just reading the recently published report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (Link below) it is difficult to comprehend how any animal can possibly survive when 100’s of thousands of their species are being killed almost annually.
I urge everyone to read the report below and support those organisations such as TRAFFIC and The African Wildlife Foundation working hard to combat the trade in all endangered organisms.
UNODC, Wildlife Crime: Pangolin scales, 2020. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
It is believed that around 70% of emerging diseases are zoonotic – that is they originate in animals and are subsequently transmitted to humans with the general opinion being that wet markets trading in wild animals for human consumption are the primary vector.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has been linked to a coronavirus found in wild bats which jumped to humans via an intermediary with Pangolins – scaly anteaters living in Asia and Africa – among the likely suspects.
Pangolins remain the most trafficked mammal in the world despite the international ban on the trade of all pangolin species since January 2017.
One operation last April seized 25 tonnes of African pangolin scales - representing an estimated 50,000 dead pangolins - with a market value of some seven million dollars. Between 2014 and 2018, the equivalent of 370,000 pangolins were seized globally.
The above photo shows 14 tons of Pangolin scales seized in Singapore in 2019.
The above is just a snapshot of the frightening report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the full report can be found using the link below.