World Pangolin Day: India tops seizure incidents’ list

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Between 2015-2021, India topped the list of seizures with 287 incidents, while Mainland China topped the list of seizures by volume (93,500 kgs) and individuals (5,600) of the threatened pangolins, the most trafficked wild mammal in the world.

There are eight species of pangolins found in two continents, four each in Africa and Asia and they range from ‘Vulnerable’ to ‘Critically Endangered’. Pangolins are in demand mostly for medicinal use.

On World Pangolin Day on Saturday, wildlife organisation ‘Traffic’ that works to help study, monitor, and influence action to curb illegal wildlife trade, has compiled data that shows over 1,141 confiscations involving both African and Asian pangolin species, have taken place in Asia from 2015-2021.

As many as 21,857 whole pangolins were seized, dead or alive; 3,33,515 kgs of whole pangolins or parts were seized, the data showed. Of these, 78 per cent seizures were pangolin scales.

A whopping 82 per cent seizures were made in Asia with maximum incidents recorded in India (287) followed by Vietnam (242), Mainland China (239), Indonesia (117) and Malaysia (56). In volume terms, as high as 91 per cent of the total volume was seized by Asian countries again, with 93,500 kg from Mainland China, followed by 70,300 kg in Vietnam, 56,800 kg in Hong Kong SAR, 54,400 kg in Malaysia and 29,100 kg in Singapore.

Of the total number of individual pangolins seized, 84 per cent were confiscated by Mainland China (5,600) leading the list followed by Taiwan (4,000), Vietnam (3,600), Indonesia (2,900) and Malaysia (2,200), the Traffic data showed.

Traffic released a poster on Saturday to mark the World Pangolin Day for spreading awareness on the issue. It draws attention that the period 2017-2019 saw some of the largest confiscations, mostly involving African pangolin scales. These two years saw over 609 seizure incidents in Asia, accounting for 244,600 kg scales and 10,971 individuals.

Pangolin confiscations from 2020-2021, however, showed a dip from previous years with some 233 incidents involving 13,389 kg of scales and 247 individuals.

“This is likely an impact from disruption in movement of products through the global transportation system from the Covid-19 pandemic rather than an actual reduction in poaching levels,” Traffic officials said adding: “These numbers should be treated with caution, as they are likely transient and as the world resumes its operations, trafficking levels (and their potential detection) are likely to pick up.”

Talking about making efforts to end poaching, Saket Badola of Traffic India, said: “Continued closer scrutiny on poaching, trafficking and illegal trade, as well as dedicated efforts to end these threats are paramount for the survival of all pangolins.”

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