Animal In Therapy | How do you deal with anxiety?
How do you deal with anxiety?
If you were a pangolin, you couldn’t ignore this question. Nor in all likelihood could you shrug off your paranoia. Why? Because you’d probably know you were the world’s only warm-blooded vertebrate with highly desirable flesh and scales. Unavoidably, you’d also be stressing about being the Number One Most Illegally Trafficked Wild Mammal in the World.
Unsustainable pangolin trafficking
For centuries pangolins have been eaten in Asia and Africa. Their blood prized as a tonic and – despite a lack of supportive scientific evidence – their protective scales used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Traditional African Medicine. Growth of a huge middle class in China and pangolin’s illicit and expensive wildmeat status there, and in Vietnam, has seen demand for these harmless mammals sky-rocket.
Data on poaching and trafficking rates suggest at least 100,000 pangolins are illegally traded every year. Native pangolins in China and Vietnam have been all but wiped out, making them Critically Endangered. Pangolin populations in the Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal, India and Africa are currently feeling the heat as traffickers look to them to satisfy swelling appetites. All eight existing pangolin species are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.
It seems almost too obvious to add that for these shy ant-lovers, such losses are unsustainable.
The fight back
On the brighter side, stuff is being done to raise the profile of pangolins and their increasingly precarious position, and to alter attitudes that fuel demand for them. Behaviour change campaigns involving celebrities like Jackie Chan, Angelababy and Djimon Hounsou have had some impact. So, too, have targeted conservation projects and the use of AI to detect online pangolin crime. Stories of scales and live animals seized by border guards have appeared in mainstream media and, since 2017, World Pangolin Day has become a thing.
Pangolins have appeared in the video game Angry Birds Friends; in Disney’s 2016 remake of Jungle Book; and benefited from the interest of well-known naturalists like Jane Goodall and David Attenborough. Significantly, in 2017, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) banned global trade in pangolins.
Who’s next on the luxury menu?
But it’s not enough. In 2019, two years after the international ban became law, a whopping 175,000 illegally captured Asian pangolins were seized. What’s more, pangolins aren’t alone on this toxic indulgence menu. According to IUCN, more than a quarter of shark species are near extinction largely due to demand for the pricey soup made from their fins. Since 2000, around 100 million abalone (marine snails) have been illegally stripped from South African waters to feed the voracious appetite for this now-fashionable treat.
The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is critically endangered because of demand for its meat and bones. It’s a similar story for sturgeon, Chinese giant salamander, the European ‘glass eel’, American lobster and blue fin tuna. Rewind several decades and the same thing was happening to the Western black rhino. It was hunted to extinction for the supposed health-giving properties and status of its horn.
Help vulnerable species
Is it OK to be eating species to extinction in the 21st century because their meat – or blood or fins – are considered status symbols and elixirs? We don’t think so. If you agree, please repost this video or share the infographic with your friends. You can learn more by signing up to our newsletter and checking out organizations working to halt the disappearance of pangolins and other wild species.
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Visit the IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group to learn more.