Indian pangolin
Indian pangolin

Indore

More than 100 cases of illegal trade of pangolin scales were reported last year in Madhya Pradesh! While we talk about becoming the leopard state, tiger state and are hoping to receive cheetah soon, wildlife crime rate indicates our inability to protect the wildlife.

While Madhya Pradesh is becoming conducive to wildlife survival, illegal trade of wild animals is still reported every month, while many of the cases go unreported.

Pangolins are one of the most trafficked mammals in the world. ​Even as we celebrate World Pangolin Day on the third Saturday of February every year, for raising awareness on their importance and plight, it’s high time for introspection of our state’s protection cover for animals and control measures for illegal trade.

As shared by Special Task Force (STF) officer Indore, more than 100 such illegal trades of pangolin scales were busted in the state in 2020. “The number has been rising and especially in 2020, the cases of wildlife poaching, illegal trade, etc rose as people are seeking good luck and easy medicines,” the officer said.

Most cases of illegal trade of ​p​angolin scales are reported from Jabalpur, Mandla and Kalaghat area, said the officer.

Lockdown effect

During lockdown, when animals came out and #AnimalCrossingNewHorizons trended on social media especially ​T​witter, the harm to these wildlife animals also amplified.

​With ​wildlife animals ​coming out in the open during the lockdown due to reduced human activities​, poachers have been hunting down pangolins ​at a much higher rate and using their scales to make ‘easy money’.​ Many of the poachers also gave the excuse that they were hard-up due to the lockdown.​

Superstition driving ​p​angolin to extinction

Pangolin scales ​​made up of keratin, the same material that makes human hair and nails, are used by the Chinese for medicinal purposes. “They believe pangolin scales have medicinal benefits and that it will cure many diseases including cancer. But researcher​s​ have proven that it is nothing but a myth,” STF officer said.

Madhya Pradesh Forest Department has busted several pangolin poachers over the years.

20 kg ​p​angolin ​s​cales recovered!

​Five days back, ​p​angolin scales weighing ​around 20 kilograms were seized by STF team near Jabalpur. One adult Indian Pangolin weighs ​maximum of ​around 13 kilogram.

STF is continuously appealing to the public to get rid of various superstitions and help in controlling illegal wildlife trade in the state and country. Pangolin is the most trafficked mammal in the world. There are eight species of pangolins. They're listed by the IUCN as critically endangered.

895,000 pangolins smuggled in a decade​

The pangolin has been under the highest protection since 2016 when 181 nations, including China, signed an international treaty – the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). It sounded like a lifeline for the pangolin, but the global trading of the mammal did not stop.

A report by Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC) shows that an estimated 206.4 ton​ne​ of pangolin scales were confiscated from 52 seizures between 2016 and 2019. And TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, estimated about 895,000 pangolins had been smuggled between 2000 and 2019 worldwide.

As long as the market demand for pangolins exists, the illegal trading won't stop.

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