All the eight different species of pangolins across the continents of Africa and Asia including giant pangolins, ground pangolin, long tailed pangolin, Indian pangolin, Chinese pangolin and Sunda pangolin; all are showing an alarming signs of dwindling populations due to a variety of anthropogenic and factors. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has declared four out of eight species of pangolin as vulnerable, two as endangered; and remaining two as critically endangered. The information clearly demonstrates how vulnerable pangolin is as wildlife species around the planet! The high demand for pangolin meat and scales in China and different SE Asian and African countries has been one of the most important factors behind the rapid demise of this majestic species. Pangolin is now been declared as the most trafficked wildlife species in the world. May be one day pangolins will become the symbol of the famous IUCN logo replacing the Giant Panda; as the former is showing prominent signs of extinction unless they are protected across their different habitats in both Asia and Africa.
The ever rising demand for pangolin bush meat; and also due to the factor that pangolin meat is considered as a delicacy in some countries including China; together with traditional medicinal application of dried pangolin scales have made the species attractive to both poachers and wildlife traffickers. They are one of the hot favorite in the illegal wildlife markets spread across South China and SE Asia. Unfortunately, compared to other mammals no such international captive breeding program and relocation to the wild initiatives has yet been taken for the pangolins; and the species is in dire need for human support for their virtual existence in the future across Asia and Africa. Rapid urbanization, infrastructural development, destruction of local forests, infringement into forested areas, indiscriminate wildfires have been damaging pangolin habitats; and has been pushing them further towards the edge. It may be already too late to revive the species; but certainly needs our immediate attention.
Saikat Kumar Basu,