Special Project: Illegal Wildlife Trade

Explore dirty secrets in Southeast
Asia’s illegal wildlife trade

PUBLISHED: FEB 18, 2017

Pangolin scales can relieve palsy, stimulate lactation, and drain pus.

YOU ARE RIGHT! Using pangolin scales as a way to cure such ailments is unproven. Their scales can fetch up to US$3,000 (S$4,200) a kg, with each scale weighing between one and four grams. That means many pangolins have to be killed to harvest 1kg of scales.

Source: The Straits Times

INCORRECT! Using pangolin scales as a way to cure such ailments is unproven. Their scales can fetch up to US$3,000 (S$4,200) a kg, with each scale weighing between one and four grams. That means many pangolins have to be killed to harvest 1kg of scales.

Source: The Straits Times

Pangolin scales are made of keratin, the same protein found in human fingernails.

INCORRECT! Like the horn of the rhinoceros, pangolin scales are made of keratin.

YOU ARE RIGHT! Like the horn of the rhinoceros, pangolin scales are made of keratin.

Eating pangolin fetuses can cure sexual impotence.

YOU ARE RIGHT! Pangolins typically give birth to just one pup per litter. Not only is the use of pangolin fetuses to boost virility scientifically unproven, it could also result a decrease in pangolin reproductiveness.

Source: National Geographic

INCORRECT! Pangolins typically give birth to just one pup per litter. Not only is the use of pangolin fetuses to boost virility scientifically unproven, it could also result a decrease in pangolin reproductiveness.

Source: National Geographic

DID YOU KNOW?

Pangolins are kept in mesh bags and are usually force-fed a mixture of corn and stone powder after capture.

AUDREY TAN

The pangolin’s armour protects it from most predators, except the one driving it to the brink of exinction – humans.

Pangolins curl up into a defensive ball when threatened by predators such as leopards and tigers, so that their hard scales envelopes all of their soft parts. Unfortunately, humans can simply pick them up and cart them away.

These mammals are taken from the wild for their scales, used in traditional medicine by those who believe they can reduce bleeding and help lactating women produce more milk. This is despite the fact that their scales are made of keratin – the same protein found in human fingernails.

But poachers value pangolins for their meat as well, capturing them in Asia and Africa – where they can be found in the wild – and sending them to places such as China and Vietnam.

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Conservation
Efforts Today

AUDREY TAN

Pangolins are being hunted to the brink of extinction for their meat and scales. But there is good news – it is now illegal for practioners of traditional medicine to get hold of pangolins and their parts, as international commercial trade in all eight species will be banned from next month (Jan 2017).

This means that pangolins, their parts or products cannot be imported, exported or re-exported.

This new trade ban was fixed in October, during the the 17th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The ban will come into effect 90 days after the meeting, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s website.

Currently, pangolins are listed on CITES Appendix II, which lists species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction now, although they may become so unless trade is closely controlled. Species on this list are only allowed to be traded with proper CITES permits certifying that they were legally obtained, and that the exports are sustainable.

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