895,000 pangolins trafficked, mostly to China and VietnamWorld | 21 Feb 2020 11:39 am
An estimated 895,000 pangolins have been trafficked across the world between 2000 and 2019 and predominantly destined to Asian markets, mainly China and Vietnam, the wildlife NGO, Traffic, says.
It says more than 96,000 kilos of pangolin scales, mostly of African species, were seized from 2017–2019 across Malaysia, Singapore, and Viet Nam, representing about 94 percent of the total quantity of scales confiscated in Southeast Asia during this period.
In early February, a study by South China Agricultural University, reported the discovery of a 99 percent genetic match between the new coronavirus and a strain of the virus found in pangolins.
The Asian pangolin is critically endangered. Pangolins are mostly used ad medicine and meat.
Given the clandestine nature of such trade, these data represent a small fraction of the true scale of the overall magnitude of illegal wildlife trade, particularly when considering two factors, Traffic says.
First, seizures represent only a segment of trafficking incidents that were successfully intercepted and reported, meaning a higher degree of trafficking goes undetected and/or unreported.
Second, the complex and often ambiguous systems that are meant to regulate industrial-scale commercial trade, such as captive breeding operations, are in fact riddled with loopholes, which leads to a mix of misdeclaration, misreporting and/or laundering of wild-caught animals declared as captive bred.
Additionally, seizures and illegal trade do not often result in successful convictions or tough penalties that would act as a deterrent in what remains a low-risk, high profit world of wildlife crime.
Despite years of evidence stacked against the open markets and outlets that unlawfully sell wildlife products across the region, these outlets continue to operate blatantly with impunity in several locations across Southeast Asia, under various degrees of regulation and law enforcement.
Some of these markets increasingly cater for specific clientele—for example, in Lao and Myanmar, some outlets are operated by Chinese nationals with transactions in yuan and catering predominantly to Chinese buyers.
The four species of pangolins in Asia and another four in Africa are collectively considered the world’s most trafficked wild mammals.
Consumption and demand is present in many other countries in Southeast Asia including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Viet Nam, Traffic says in a report.