Wealthy diners driving pangolin to extinction

2014-07-29 08:18
A pangolin, curls into a ball as a Natural Resources Conservation Agency  official holds it up before releasing it into the wild at a conservation forest in Sibolangit, North Sumatra, Indonesia. (Jefri Tarigan, AP)

A pangolin, curls into a ball as a Natural Resources Conservation Agency official holds it up before releasing it into the wild at a conservation forest in Sibolangit, North Sumatra, Indonesia. (Jefri Tarigan, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - Some wild mammal species are being driven to extinction for their fur, hides, horns or tusks, but the pangolin, or scaly anteater, is being eaten out of existence by wealthy humans, the IUCN warned on Tuesday.

"Consumers are willing to pay increasingly high prices for their meat, which is being plated up at banquets across the East as a luxury food", the International Union for Conservation of Nature said in a statement.

It said the illegal trade in pangolins had now "reached an epic scale", with all eight species of the worlds only truly scaly mammal now threatened with extinction.

Pangolins occur in Asia and Africa, including in South Africa. They have large sharp scales covering their skin, and roll up into a tight ball when threatened. They are nocturnal, and use their long, sticky tongues to catch insects, mainly ants and termites.

The IUCN said that while the creatures' scales acted as armour against natural predators, these offered no defence against poachers.

Trade

Of the eight species of pangolins around the world, four occur in Asia and four in Africa.

"As the populations of the four Asian pangolin species plummet, traders are now looking to Africa to meet the growing demand", IUCN said.

Last month, Hong Kong custom authorities seized more than a ton of pangolin scales in a shipping container sent from South Africa.

It was reported at the time as the largest seizure of pangolin at Hong Kong's ports in five years, and that the scales were worth R5m on the black market. International trade in pangolin is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).

Pangolin scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine, where they are believed to cure a variety of ills, including psoriasis and poor circulation.

In its statement, the IUCN said all eight pangolin species were being illegally sold to buyers in China and Vietnam.

It was launching a conservation action on Tuesday that laid out steps that needed to be taken to clamp down on the illegal trade.

"A vital first step is for the Chinese and Vietnamese governments to conduct an inventory of their pangolin scale stocks and make this publicly available to prove that wild-caught pangolins are no longer supplying the commercial trade", it said.

South Africa is home to the ground or Temminck's pangolin, which ranges mainly across the northern and north-eastern parts of the country, extending further north in Africa up to Sudan.

They can measure up to a metre in length and weigh up to 18kg. The name pangolin comes from the Malay "pengguling", meaning to roll up.

Read more on:    cites  |  iucn  |  china  |  cape town  |  hong kong  |  conservation  |  animals  |  poaching

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.