Peter is an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer with over 50 years work within zoos.
World Pangolin Day
World Pangolin Day takes place each year during the third week of February. The main aim of the day is to draw the World's attention to the extreme threat that this interesting and harmless little creature is facing today. It is the most trafficked animal on the planet.
Pangolins are so important to our planet. They eat termites and ants, up to 200,000 each a day. A three kilogram Pangolin can consume up to 300–400 g of termites per feeding. Without them we are possibly faced with an ecological disaster of which we cannot yet imagine. Do you recall what happened in China with the sparrows? If not then please read World Sparrow Day.
It has been said that only around 10% of the illegal trade in Pangolin and Pangolin parts are actually stopped....the rest gets through. A frightening thought.
The situation is improving and so in 2019 more 128 tons of Pangolin scales were stopped by customs.
Each Ton of scales represents 1,230 slaughtered Pangolins. So 128 Tons means 158,000 Pangolins have died.
A ban in the trade of Pangolins and their scales came into force on the 2nd January 2017 and so today all trade is illegal but yet it continues. In 2017 China imported 5,000kg of Tree Pangolin scales which originated from the Republic of the Congo, and Hong Kong brought in 7,706kg of Giant Pangolin scales from Burundi. These imports were argued to have been as a result of incorrect paperwork and shipping took place before the ban.
Malawi: Statistics indicate that in 2020, the Department registered 33 cases of pangolin trafficking, 42 in 2021 and eight cases have so far been registered in 2022.
Nigeria: Between 2010 and September 2021, 190,407 kilos of pangolin scales were taken from at least 799,343 of the animals, but potentially up to almost a million creatures are dead due to the smuggling.
Nigeria: In August authorities at the Nigeria Customs Service have announced the seizure of 7.1 tons of pangolin scales that smugglers were attempting to ship out of the country.
Nigeria, Lagos: According to customs officials, a raid last month in Lagos turned up 196 sacks of pangolin scales and 840 kilograms of elephant ivory. The haul represents about 15,000 dead pangolins. In February 2022 839.4 kg of pangolin scales packed in 15 sacks were seized.
Nepal: At least 209 pangolins could have been killed and illegally traded in Nepal between 2015 and 2020.
Philippines: In September 2019, authorities in Puerto Princesa City, the capital of Palawan, made the largest-ever seizure of Philippine pangolin scales: 1,154 kilograms (2,545 pounds), for which at least 3,900 pangolins would have been killed.
China: The largest ever seizure of pangolin scales happened in China in 2019 with 23 metric tonnes deriving from approximately 50,000 African pangolins. Similar busts have occurred in Hong Kong.
Singapore: April, Singapore intercepted a 14.2-ton shipment and a 14-ton shipment, estimated to be from more than 70,000 pangolins.
REMEMBER THAT ONLY AROUND 10% OF THIS TRADE IS APPREHENDED.
Pangolin Scale Siezure
A Pangolin Scale Seizure
Why Pangolin Scales?
So why Pangolin Scales? It is all so pointless really. It is to serve the Asian market in traditional medicine. The scales are ground into a powder which may then be formed into pills.
Pangolin Scales are made of Keratin, exactly the same material as your fingernails. They have no medicinal value and yet the people who use them believe they can treat a wide value of ailments up to and including using them as an aphrodisiac.
PANGOLINS IN CAPTIVITY
There are very few Pangolins in captivity. They are notoriously difficult to keep alive. Over the past 150 years, more than 100 zoos or organizations have attempted to maintain pangolins. Most surviving no more than six months. Collections in China, Vietnam and Cambodia are keeping, and breeding with limited success.
That said some collections are extremely good at managing them. Foremost is the Taipei Zoo. In October 2021 the. World's oldest captive pangolin died aged 23 in the Taipei Zoo. They have bred into the fourth generation.
Both Prague Zoo and Singapore Zoo have had great success as has the Pangolin Consortium in the US.
How Criminal Intelligence Can Help Save the Pangolin from Extinction
Interested? please check out
PANGOLINS IN PERIL first written in 2009
More, because I write of other things.