Asians eating scaly anteaters to extinction: conservationists

Jul 29, 2014
This picture taken on June 16, 2014 and relased by the government's Information Services Department shows seized pangolin scales displayed in Hong Kong

The scaly anteater, which looks like an artichoke with legs and a tail, is being eaten out of existence as its tasty meat is served up at banquets across Asia, conservationists said Tuesday.

The mysterious mammal, also known as a , is the prey of poachers with more than one million believed to have been snatched from the wild in the past decade.

"In the 21st century we really should not be eating species to extinction—there is simply no excuse for allowing this to continue," said Jonathan Baillie, co-chair of the pangolin specialist group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.

"All eight pangolin species are now listed as threatened with extinction, largely because they are being traded to China and Vietnam," he said in an statement from the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The illegal trade is flourishing for, besides being a luxury food, pangolin scales are also used in Chinese medicine to treat conditions such as psoriasis and poor circulation.

In fact, this scaly anteater has become the world's most illegally traded mammal, which has led the IUCN to step up conservation efforts in Asia and also Africa where traders are turning to meet the growing demand.

"A first vital step is for the Chinese and Vietnamese governments to conduct an inventory of their pangolin scale stocks and make this publicly available to prove that wild-caught pangolins are no longer supplying the commercial trade," said Dan Challender, the other co-chair of the specialist group based at the Zoological Society of London.

Conservationists want to save the pangolin from the dinner table and the annals of extinction as they are highly evolutionarily distinct. Extinction would wipe out 80 million years of evolutionary history.

The name pangolin comes from the Malay word 'pengguling' which means something that rolls up, which is what they do when they feel threatened.

The pangolin, which lives on insects in the tropical forests, weighs between two to 35 kilogrammes (4.4 to 77 pounds) and measures between 30 to 80 centimetres (12 to 31.5 inches) long. The giant is up to 1.5 metres long.

Pangolins were previously grouped with anteaters, sloths and armadillos, but now pangolins are known to be most closely related to carnivores.

Explore further: Seizures show scale of pangolin peril

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Seizures show scale of pangolin peril

Mar 14, 2014

(Phys.org) —Pangolins, insect-eating mammals that live in tropical parts of Africa and Asia, are under threat from a growing inter-continental illegal trade in the animals and their scales, according to ...

Philippines seizes butchered pangolins

Jan 06, 2012

Philippine wildlife authorities seized a huge shipment of meat and scales from up to a hundred slaughtered pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, officials said on Friday.

Indonesia seizes 85 endangered pangolins

Jul 31, 2012

Indonesian police have intercepted 85 endangered pangolins, most of them alive despite being stuffed into sacks by suspected smugglers, an official said Tuesday.

Protected pangolins seized from Philippine boat

Apr 23, 2013

Philippine authorities have seized 23 protected scaly anteaters found hidden in a cargo boat, in the second case of suspected trafficking of the species in a month, officials said.

Recommended for you

Laser scanning accurately 'weighs' trees

Nov 21, 2014

A terrestrial laser scanning technique that allows the structure of vegetation to be 3D-mapped to the millimetre is more accurate in determining the biomass of trees and carbon stocks in forests than current ...

Cameras detect 'extinct' wallabies near Broome

Nov 21, 2014

Yawuru Country Managers have found a spectacled hare wallaby (Lagorchestes conspicillatus) population, a species which for the last decade was feared to be locally extinct at Roebuck Plains, adjacent to Broome.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Sinister1812
not rated yet Jul 29, 2014
Like everything else? What else is new?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.