China removes pangolins from its official list of traditional medicines
The timid mammals which are the famed as the world’s most trafficked species, Pangolins, have recently been removed from the Chinese official list of traditional medicine, the state-owned media reported.
Pangolin parts, along with other formulations including one that mentions pills made from bat feces have been removed from the official Chinese Pharmacopoeia amind pandemic, Agence France Presse reports. The Chinese government gave the scaly-mammal the heights legal protection to save the threatened species.
Pangolin body parts are very expensive in the Chinese black market for it is believed to have therapeutic properties which scientists debunk. Pangolin scales, made from keratin, the same substance that makes nails, hair, and Rhino horn is usually dried, powdered, and turned into a pill for use in Chinese traditional medicine to treat ailments like arthritis and even lactating issues. Some scientists believe the novel coronavirus that is currently raging originated in the pangolins at a Wuhan wet market last year.
Tens of thousands of pangolins are slaughtered every year for its use in Chinese Traditional Medicine and for consumption as a delicacy by the Chinese and Vietnamese elites according to reports. The eight species of the animal found in Asia are scheduled as critically endangered by the IUCN.
Heartbreakingly, last year Singapore seized a whopping 14-tones of pangolin scales along with another 14.2 tones of pangolin bodies arriving from Nigeria; a record-breaking seizure of an estimated 72,000 pangolins, National Geographic states.
It is reportedly unclear why China has removed pangolins, as the state-media that reported the story just mentioned pangolins along with other “Depleted wild resources” are being taken down from the Chinese Pharmacopoeia.
In recent times China has banned the sale of bushmeat or exotic meats in various cities like Wuhan and Beijing citing chances of spread of diseases. Efforts have been taken to ensure the wet market farmers do not face any difficulties after losing their trade. Chinese authorities reportedly bought all the produce from the farmers and encouraged them to go to some other business.
The World Wide Fund for Nature lauded China’s decision to stop the use of pangolins in traditional medicine and called the step an “important respite” from the damaging trade.
(Cover image courtesy of A. J. T. Johnsingh, WWF-India and NCF via Commons under CC 4.0 license)