Protect Rare Mammal from Black Market Trade


Target: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Secretary-General John Scanlon

Goal: Protect rare anteater-like mammal from increasing illegal trafficking

A relatively unknown mammal is among the most highly trafficked animals for traditional Chinese medicine: the pangolin, or scaly anteater, a strange-looking creature that’s facing increasing pressure from habitat destruction and black market trade. Urge the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to implement awareness campaigns and enact heavier policing.

The pangolin is a source of bush meat, and is considered a delicacy in Chinese cuisine. Its armored scales are also believed to have medicinal properties in traditional medicine, and thousands of pangolins are poached for this purpose every year. Two species of pangolins are already endangered, and pangolin populations are slow to recover from losses because of their limited reproduction: African pangolins give birth only to single offspring, while Asiatic pangolins may have up to three. The black market trade is therefore suspected to have a devastating impact on populations that can’t recover from the losses of thousands of individuals.

According to a recent report published by Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, officials seize 10,000 animals annually, likely only a fraction of the true numbers. The pangolin is in clear danger of illegal overexploitation, especially when poaching occurs alongside habitat loss. Pangolins are typically poached alive, and so prove difficult to return to their habitat; some may even be euthanized, or released by would-be rescuers into inappropriate environments.

With mounting pressure from demand for traditional Chinese medicine and continuing habitat loss, the pangolin is in great need of further protection. The Chinese pangolin is endangered, yet still hunted on a large scale as they are considered a delicacy, and the African ground pangolin is also under threat.

Education and stricter policing are both desperately needed to protect pangolins. Pangolin scales have no medicinal value; full-scale awareness campaigns would help to educate people on the dangers faced by pangolins and the toll traditional medicine takes. Greater policing, especially in high-traffic areas such as Chinese markets, is also needed. CITES must take action to crack down on the poaching of pangolins for traditional medicine


Dear CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon,

The pangolin has become one of the most trafficked mammals on the black market for traditional Chinese medicine, and is considered a delicacy as well. Pangolins are poached for their scales, believed to have medicinal qualities, on a massive scale, with at least 10,000 taken annually. Two species are already endangered, and others are threatened by continued poaching and habitat destruction. Since pangolins have small litters—the African ground pangolin, for instance, gives birth only to a single offspring—they cannot recover from mass exploitation.

I urge you to implement an awareness campaign that would raise the alarm and educate people on the dwindling numbers of pangolins and the threat posed by traditional medicine. Education is one of the first steps toward greater social awareness and protection for animal species at risk, alongside greater policing in the most heavily trafficked areas. Pangolin populations cannot sustain increasing poaching, and are in great need of protection. I ask that CITES take action to protect this unique species from exploitation.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: nachbarnebenan via Wikimedia Commons

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