Breaking! Tomorrow Is World Pangolin Day 2018; New Study Reveals That Nearly 6k Pangolin Have Been Illegally Traded In India Since 2009


Close to 6k pangolins were illegally traded in India between 2009 and 2017 according to a new report released today, on the eve of World Pangolin Day 2018.

Conducted by TRAFFIC, the study revealed that despite a ban, a minimum of 5,772 pangolins were traded illegally in India during that time period; which converts into close to 650 pangolins traded every year since 2009.

However, according to the organization, this is a conservative estimate and as only a fraction of illegal wildlife trade is detected, the actual number is likely to be far higher.

“The number of pangolins in the illegal wildlife trade in India is of concern and without proper population estimates, the impact of such trade is unclear and could pose a significant threat to the species,” Dr. Saket Badola, Head of TRAFFIC’s India office said in a statement. “There is no better time than World Pangolin Day to take urgent action for pangolins: enforcement agencies should redouble their efforts to curtail poaching and illegal trade in pangolins through improved inter-agency cooperation and coordination, and collaborate with their colleagues in transit and destination market countries to secure an international crackdown on the criminal elements orchestrating wildlife trafficking.”

Pangolins, considered the most trafficked mammal species globally, are targeted mainly for their meat, and scales. Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy and as a “tonic food” because of its unproven yet alleged medicinal properties. Pangolin scales are used as an ingredient in traditional medicines as they are believed to cure various ailments. Most of the poaching and smuggling are believed to be targeted to international markets in China and Southeast Asia.

The study recorded 90 cases of pangolins seizures in India during the nine-year study, of which the majority, 83, were of pangolin scales, clearly indicating that scales are the main pangolin product trafficked in India.

Manipur and Tamil Nadu emerged as the hotspots for pangolin smuggling, where the majority of seizures took place.

Between 2009 to 2013, most of the 46 seizures were in eastern or north-eastern parts of India, including Assam, Manipur, Mizoram and West Bengal. While between 2014–2017, the majority of 44 seizures were from southern and central parts of India including; Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Tamil Nadu. This could indicate a regional shift in the poaching and smuggling of pangolins in India.

Hunting and trade in both the pangolin species, Indian Pangolin Manis and Chinese Pangolin Manis, found in India are banned under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 while international trade is prohibited under CITES. The Indian Pangolin is found across almost all of the country while the distribution of the Chinese Pangolin in India is restricted to the north-east.


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