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Pangolins

Recent Spike in Large Seizures of Ivory, Rhino Horn, Pangolin Scales

Over the past two weeks, authorities in multiple countries have arrested smugglers and seized major shipments of illegal wildlife products in Africa and Asia, including rhino horn, elephant ivory and pangolin scales.

The largest such seizure occurred earlier this week in Singapore, where an estimated $6 million in ivory tusks, rhino horn and teeth believed to be from cheetahs and leopards were found stashed in a shipping container filled with bags of tea leaves. 

In each of these six separate cases, the shipments were en route to Vietnam and/or China, or involved smuggling by nationals of those countries.

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Maggie Q Visits Vietnam to Help Save the Rhino from Extinction

With its status symbol allure and alleged medicinal properties, rhino horn is a luxury item in Vietnam, a primary market for horn that’s driving the slaughter of rhinos in Africa.

That’s why in 2014, WildAid and our conservation partners launched “Stop Using Rhino Horn," a three-year campaign with support and cooperation from the government as well as business leaders and media partners, who have contributed $1.6 million in donated media that has reached millions of consumers.

On Friday, WildAid’s Vietnam team welcomed actor Maggie Q, star of the hit CBS TV series "Stalker," and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy Claire A. Pierangelo to a launch event in Hanoi for the second year of Stop Using Rhino Horn, which now boasts over 40 Vietnamese celebrities spreading this important message.

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NYT Profiles Pangolin Conservation Efforts

A 3-year-old female pangolin ambling through the underbrush at a Cambodian wildlife rescue center, and seemingly unaware that she's missing two feet lost to a poacher's snare, provides the opening scene to an excellent profile on this amazing animal by New York Times science writer Erica Goode.

Also known as “scaly anteaters,” pangolins are small mammals primarily distinguished by hard, overlapping scales made of keratin, the same protein that constitutes human hair and fingernails. Found in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, pangolins are solitary animals that use their extraordinarily long tongues to probe for ants and termites in mounds and decaying logs. 

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穿山甲

穿山甲是鱗甲目(Pholidota)的小型哺乳動物,由於其全身長滿由角蛋白組成的巨大重疊鱗片(人類指甲以及犀牛角亦是由角蛋白構成),故也被稱為「鱗片食蟻獸」(Scaly anteaters)。鱗片是穿山甲的防御甲,當面臨威脅時,穿山甲便會捲曲成球狀,鱗片則變成了裝甲。(穿山甲的英文名字Pangolin,源自馬來語pengguling,意為「捲縮的東西」)

穿山甲共有8個物種,其中4個物種原產於亞洲,分別為馬來亞、中國、菲律賓和印度穿山甲;另外4個物種原產非洲,分別是白腹穿山甲(White-bellied)、長尾穿山甲(Black-bellied)、大穿山甲(Giant Ground), 及南非穿山甲(Temminck’s Ground)。

穿山甲是食蟲動物,其主要食糧是螞蟻和白蟻,並擔當天然蟲害控制者的角色。穿山甲擁有能掘挖蟻巢和白蟻丘的長爪子,牠們的耳朵是封住的,保護其不被昆蟲攻擊,而其舌頭長度足足有身長的三分之一,能輕易利用長舌挖出獵物。如此的身體結構,讓穿山甲能適應特殊的飲食。

全部8種穿山甲均被列入《瀕危野生動植物種國際貿易公約》(CITES)附錄二。該名單代表雖然該動植物尚未絕種,但要嚴格控制其貿易,以避免滅絕威脅。2000年起,3個亞洲穿山甲物種得到CITES野捕獲個體零出口配額的進一步保護,禁止所有馬來亞、中國和印度穿山甲的商業貿易,而菲律賓穿山甲亦於2007年被列入保護。


Photo by Paul Hilton/WildAid

穿山甲貿易

然而,市場對穿山甲甲殼及穿山甲肉仍存巨大需求。每年被獵殺的穿山甲達數以萬計。 根據國際自然保護聯盟(IUCN)數據顯示,穿山甲是全球最常被販賣的哺乳動物。

單是2000年及2012年,便有逾21. 81萬隻穿山甲被查獲,這數字只是非法交易中的冰山一角。IUCN估計,在過去10年間,非法交易的穿山甲數目達逾100萬隻。

非法穿山甲貿易數字於過去數年激增,走私包括穿山甲甲殼、活體及急凍穿山甲。大量證據顯示,數以噸計的穿山甲甲殼從非洲偷運到亞洲,路線與走私象牙及從事犀牛角相同。部份從事非法象牙及犀牛角交易的犯罪分子,亦同時參與穿山甲走私,以謀取更高的利潤。

穿山甲高速被濫殺,並面臨瀕危威脅,引起了環保界的高度關注。事實上,我們必須迅速採取行動,才能拯救這些動物。然而,在2008年,只有馬來穿山甲「Manis javanica」及中國穿山甲「M. pentadactyla」兩個穿山甲物種,被IUCN列為瀕危物種。

所有穿山甲正面臨絕種危險,其中中國及馬來穿山甲現已被列為極危物種,印度和菲律賓穿山甲則屬瀕危,非洲4個物種都是處於弱勢。亞洲人視穿山甲肉為佳餚,其甲殼及胎兒被中醫及傳統非洲醫學用作入藥。中國中產階級迅速崛起,預料中產人數將於15年內由3億人激增至5億人,這將帶動穿山甲非法貿易。

然而,美國亦出現穿山甲貿易及消費。大量穿山甲被運往美國,最近有加州超市更出售穿山甲。 

From Uganda to China, Illegal Pangolin Trade Makes News

Cape/Temminck’s Ground Pangolin, photo by David Brossard

A precipitous spike in rhino and elephant poaching has dominated environmental news headlines in recent weeks, with record numbers of rhinos killed in South Africa last year and sting operations in multiple African nations uncovering elephant ivory bound for Asian markets. 

But look closer at the coverage, and you may also read about one obscure animal equally imperiled by the illegal wildlife trade — and a fraction the physical size of these megafauna.

Endangered Wildlife Moves Up Wealthy Chinese Menus

Chinese police have seized hundreds of bear paws and dead pangolins smuggled into China where they are prized as an expensive culinary delicacy with uses in traditional medicine.

Police made 20 arrests in a smuggling ring in the south-western province of Yunnan, seizing 278 bear paws and 416 pangolins which had been brought in by lorry or train from Yunnan to three neighbouring provinces between December and January this year, according to a report in the Yunnan Daily.

The pangolins, which resemble armadillos, had been injected with tranquillisers to keep them quiet.