- Pangolins are shy and secretive nocturnal creatures that live on ants and termites.
- Of the eight species found worldwide (four each in Asia and Africa), two are known from India- Indian Pangolin and Chinese Pangolin.
- Their defense mechanism is quickly to curl into a ball when threatened
- It is covered under as many as one thousand scales which protect them from predators.
Declining population of Pangolins:
- Pangolin is the world’s most trafficked mammal.
- According to some estimates, poachers have hunted more than 1 million Pangolins in the past decade.
- In 2014, the Chinese Pangolin was categorized as critically endangered, which is now feared to be extinct. Also, the Indian Pangolin which was marked endangered in 2014, is now critically endangered and it has been feared that it may also get extinct in a decade or so.
- Pangolins are killed for their scales for Medicinal purposes in China and Vietnam. However, this has no scientific basis as Pangolin’s scales are made of Keratin, the same material found in human nails and hair.
- They are also used in Luxury goods.
- Pangolins are also hunted for its meat across the northeastern States and in central India.
- Habitat loss
- Their reproduction is slow and can give birth to only one baby a year.
Why Pangolins are important?
- Loss of Pangolin can cause ecological loss.
- Pangolins eat termites that otherwise destroy crops and buildings.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) on Pangolin
- The CITES seeks to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
- All eight species in the pangolin family are currently listed in Appendix II of CITES.
- In 2016, CITES unanimously agreed a total ban on international trade on all species at the summit in Johannesburg.
- However, Pangolins continue to be poached at alarming rate, even causing a devastating crash in Asian Pangolin population.
- There is lot of work to be done to ensure the survival of pangolins. Countries must work together to reduce demand and enforce laws against poaching.
Section : Environment & Ecology