Pangolins are unique, rare, solitary, nocturnal, terrestrial mammal that survives predominantly on the diet of ants and termites; currently 8 species are reported with four each from the continents of Africa and Asia. The secretive species is showing an alarming decline in their populations and sub populations across both Asia and Africa due to relentless poaching pressure of for high international demand for their scales and for bush meat across China, Hong Kong and South East Asia. The pressure of poaching and trafficking of pangolins have been so high that pangolins have been described as the most persecuted wild mammals on the planet. If no effective conservation measures are taken immediately; the species is certainly destined for extinction in both Asia as well as Africa. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has listed the species to be in urgent need for comprehensive conservation efforts to avoid becoming extinct in next two decades. The massive trafficking and killing of pangolins in China and SE Asia for their scales that are believed to have medicinal properties with no scientific credibility as well for bush meat are posing serious threats to pangolin populations across the planet. Asian countries need to work jointly in cracking down on illegal wildlife markets. A multination Joint Conservation Initiative between SAARC, ASEAN and China for protecting forests, wildlife and biodiversity could help in successful pangolin conservation across South and SE Asia.
Saikat Kumar Basu,