Recently, the Chinese authorities have managed to seize around 3 tons of pangolin scales, the biggest quantity in the history of the country. The pangolin is the most trafficked animal in the world, so this transport was just one of many. Countries around the world, including China, are working together to prevent the peculiar mammal from going extinct.
A Huge Capture
The authorities in China seized an illegal transport of pangolin scales, the biggest of its kind so far. The scales come from 5,000 to 7,500 pangolins, which is a huge number for the endangered creatures. The scales were found in 101 bags hidden on a ship originating from Africa. The paperwork claimed the ship was transporting timber.
The seize is part of a global effort to stop pangolin trafficking, which endangers all eight species known to scientists. A number of 183 countries have agreed to support a complete ban of any kind of pangolin trade, but illegal activities continue. The business is quite lucrative, as only this transport was worth more than $2 million. In fact, the suspects caught by the Chinese authorities seem to have been involved in such activities for more than a year.
Pangolins are hunted for their meat, which is considered to be a delicacy, as well as for their scales, which are sometimes even used to make coats. According to Phys.org, though, the mammals are on the verge of extinction because of a simple myth.
"The scales are nothing more than keratin, the same substance that makes up fingernails. Yet it has been falsely touted as a cure for multiple ailments, including cancer, among some practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine," noted the website.
A Unique Creature
Pangolins are the only mammals that are completely covered by scales, which makes them look like small reptiles from a distance. They are as big as a raccoon and are harmless creatures, feasting mostly on ants. The eight species of pangolin are among the most interesting mammals roaming our planet due to some peculiar characteristics. Their tongues, for example, are longer than their bodies and are used to catch ants.
Also, when in danger, they roll into scaly balls, which is quite an interesting sight. In fact, their name means "something that rolls into a ball" in Malay, a pretty fitting name. The strategy is very good, as most big predators are at loss when faced with a scaly ball, which is too hard to bite even for lions. Unfortunately, this great adaptation also made the species endangered due to the myth created around it.