Pangolins are being poached to extinction to supply INEFFECTIVE traditional Chinese medicine

Here are some facts about the gradual extinction of the pangolin. It is a gruesome, unhappy story of human excess and superstition. For me, it is an example of complete madness in the human character but perhaps I am alone in that thought.

Pangolin scales are sold on the black market for traditional Asian medicine. They are poached for this medicine because their body parts are used in it.

Pangolins are mercilessly persecuted and brutally killed for the scales to service the Chinese traditional medicine market
Pangolins are mercilessly persecuted and brutally killed for the scales to service the Chinese traditional medicine market. Image: MikeB. The image is copyright free and free to use provided you link back to this page please.

There is a sickening story on one website telling us how the poachers captured a pangolin. The animal hides from hunters in a hollowed-out tree. Her tail is tugged by the poachers to try and get her out. They fail. The use axes to cut the tree and that fails too. They light a fire to smoke her out.

The pangolin suffocates and loses consciousness. It then makes a bolt for freedom. It is captured. It is placed in a bag and taken to a hut where it is bludgeoned with a machete until she can barely move.

While still bleeding and alive, she is thrown into a cauldron of boiling water whereupon her tragic struggle ends.

Pangolins have a reputation of being the most illegally trafficked mammal on the planet.

It is believed that over a million pangolins were taken from the wild in the manner described above between 2000 and 2013.

Please note that is unclear as to how many are being slaughtered like this. This indicates to me a lack of oversight of the conservation of the pangolin. It also indicates to me a lack of concern or at least sufficient concern for their conservation by those charged with the task.

The pangolin’s scales are used, as mentioned, in traditional Chinese medicine in China and in Vietnam.

They are believed to have curative properties but it is entirely based upon superstition.

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Their scales are made of keratin. A human’s fingernails are made of keratin. A human’s hair strands are made of keratin. There is no medicinal value. The entire slaughter of pangolins is based upon superstition. That is why I have called it a form of human madness. And great sadness because it this mild-mannered animal (an ant eater) is being mercilessly persecuted and slaughtered by mad people.

There is a negative spin off from this mass slaughter. You may remember Covid-19!? That started off in a Wuhan wet market and it is believed that it was a pangolin which was hacked to death in the market which transmitted the disease to the person doing the slaughtering (blood and body liquid spatter?) and that that person was the first person that contracted Covid-19 as it was described afterwards.

There has been a huge amount criticism of human behaviour which caused the start of the Covid pandemic because it told us that people cannot abuse nature like that without consequences. It is an example of people getting too close to nature and abusing it at the same time which results in zoonotic diseases being transferred. It may happen again and probably will.

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The IUCN Red List lists 8 species of pangolin: giant ground pangolin, white-bellied pangolin, black-bellied pangolin, Indian pangolin, Chinese pangolin, Sunda pangolin, Temminck’s pangolin and the Philippine pangolin.

The Chinese pangolin is critically endangered. The Indian pangolin is endangered. The giant ground pangolin is also endangered and so on. The primary threat for their endangerment is “indiscriminate hunting and poaching, both targeted and untargeted, for local and international use, with the latter primarily driven by demand in China” – Red List.

Of course, the population is decreasing. We don’t know the number of mature individuals in the wild. The population is also fragmented.

Please note that the president of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since 2013, Xi Jinping, supports his country’s traditional Chinese medicine and sees nothing wrong with the mass slaughter of wild animals such as pangolins or domestic cats to be eaten. There are many other instances concerning different species suffering the same fate for this ridiculous traditional medicinal market.

Please note, too, that all eight species are meant to be protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – a treaty. But clearly there is a massive failure in the process of protection. Enforcement of this treaty is in my view a failure. There has been a consistent decline in the numbers of protected species over the years that this treaty has been in force. This is indicative of failure. It’s indicative of a failure to enforce the terms of the agreement.

In my view, too, the world is too beholden to China and their manufacturing. They don’t want to upset China because many countries are dependent upon cheap products made in China. Therefore, they shut up and don’t speak up by for example instigating sanctions against China to force them to change their ways in adopting a more humane and more sensible medicine other than traditional Chinese medicine.

A conservation group, ZSL, has successfully (according to them) “spearheaded proposals to ban international training of pangolins”. I’m sorry but I am very cynical about that kind of statement. It’s too convenient to say it but was impossible to back it up with real-world successes. Business trumps conservation.

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