Pangolin – Most Poached Species In India?
The pangolin, a rare, shy anteater species with unique, characteristic scales covering its body, is the world’s most trafficked mammal. According to recent reports, it is also the most smuggled and poached animal in India. As per statistics provided by TRAFFIC - India, over four tonnes of pangolin scales have been seized in the last five years alone.
In a striking case in 2011, about 1,800 kg. of pangolin scales were retrieved in Manipur.
The keratinous scales of pangolins are a prized delicacy, especially in China and are also used in Chinese Traditional Medicines. No empirical studies have ever proven the keratin in these scales, or in rhino horns for that matter, to possess any curative properties. Pangolins are also killed for their meat and skin to make fashion accessories and leather products. The rising Chinese demand for animal products is pushing several pangolin species to the brink of extinction.
India is a range country for Indian and Chinese pangolins, though the latter is limited to the northeast. Chinese pangolins are today critically endangered while the endangered Indian pangolins are fast going to follow suit if the rampant wildlife crimes against these animals continue apace. It is usually local trained hunters who hunt these mammals. The pangolins are dug out of their burrows and boiled in water to loosen and remove the scales from their bodies. Live animals are also traded and trafficked for high prices. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) does not allow the four Asian pangolin species to be internationally traded, but this law is rampantly flouted. Pangolins are Schedule I species protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 in India. Any person caught poaching or illegally trading these animals can be sentenced to up to seven years of rigorous imprisonment and fined up to Rs. 25,000.
India is proving to be a major player in supplying thousands of pangolins and pangolin scales, with seizures reported from across several states. Recent intelligence reports have also hinted that several tiger poaching syndicates are also turning to poaching pangolins owing to the lucrative demand in the international market.Source: Times of India Worldwatch