Breaking! Three Pangolin Species Are Inching Closer To Extinction As Deadly Poaching Continues

Three pangolin species have sadly moved closer to extinction, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared in an update today on its Red List of Threatened Species.The adorable scaly mammals continue to be hit-hard by poaching that serves an international market for their scales and meat.

“Pangolins continue to get hammered by poaching and trade, and extinction is on the horizon for these adorably odd creatures,” Sarah Uhlemann, International Program Director at the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement. “The Trump administration is running out of time to give more pangolins protection under the Endangered Species Act. We need to ensure that the U.S. market for any pangolin products is zero.”

In November, the Center and other wildlife groups filed a notice of intent to sue the Trump administration for failing to propose pangolin protections under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Currently, only one pangolin — the Temminck’s ground pangolin from Africa — is protected under the Act.

The IUCN’s new assessment declared that the status of three pangolin species have declined. Two African pangolin species, the white-bellied and the giant ground pangolin, moved from the “Vulnerable” category, to the more imperiled “Endangered” category, due to a likely 50% decline in 21 years.

The third pangolin, the Philippine pangolin, moved from “Endangered” to “Critically Endangered,” due to anticipated declines of 80% in 21 years. The IUCN found that no pangolin species’ status had improved.

Pangolins are gravely threatened by poaching and trade for their scales, which are wrongly believed to have curative properties in China, as well as for their meat. While most of the demand is in Asia, a U.S. market remains. At least 26,000 imports of pangolin products were seized in the United States between 2004 and 2013, and a 2015 report by Humane Society International found “medicinal” products containing or likely to contain pangolin parts openly for sale online and at U.S. stores.

Habitat loss also threatens the future survival of the pangolin species.

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