August 9, 2020
you might’ve heard the news recently that pangolins were removed from the list of ingredients in Chinese medicine. As the biggest threat to my kinds’ survival, this is good news, hey?
Pango here, reportin’ from the bush on the pangolin resistance to poaching.
I’ve got some good news, some bad news and some ugly truths to dig up for ya, so buckle in.
Now, you might’ve heard the news recently that pangolins were removed from the list of ingredients in Chinese medicine. As the biggest threat to my kinds’ survival, this is good news, hey?
Pangolins like me are hunted for our scales because it’s believed in traditional Chinese medicine that they contain medicinal properties. For decades, traditional Chinese medicine has claimed that pangolin scales can treat all sorts of human ailments, from infertility to circulation.
Pangolin scales are made of keratin, the same stuff that’s in human hair and fingernails, and it acts as a protective armour against predators. But it doesn’t stop poachers. This is why the persecution of pangolins is so widespread in China and southeast Asia and why species like the Chinese and Malayan pangolin are now critically endangered.
But, this year, for the first time in decades, pangolin scales aren’t listed on the ingredients for Chinese medicine.
It’s likely that this move was made as a result of continued pressure from conservationists like our friends over at Pangolin Crisis Fund. I tip my hat to ya for that.
It may also have been sparked by the link between pangolins and the coronavirus (you can read my take on that here). In the wake of coronavirus, Vietnam banned the import of wildlife and wildlife products to reduce the risk of new pandemics.
The Chinese government also announced the upgrading of pangolins’ protected status to the highest possible level – the same one they have for pandas. It means that the Chinese government no longer support the illegal trade of pangolins, penalties for doing so could increase and getting hands on a license to collect wild pangolins could become more difficult.
All sounds great, hey?
Well, yah, but unfortunately, it’s not so simple.
The removal of pangolin scales from Chinese medicine was welcomed in reports in June, when it was announced, but further inspection has revealed all may not be as it seems.
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) have highlighted that it’s possible pangolin scales remain on the Chinese medicine section relating to ingredients used in patented medicines. If they are, then we’re not safe from Chinese pharmaceutical companies to continue trading us.
It has happened before, as the EIA report: “…neither leopard bone nor bear bile are now included in the ‘key ingredients’ section of the pharmacopoeia, yet are still listed among ingredients for patent medicines and so their legal commercial use continues.”
So, while it does seem like a positive step in protecting pangolins from extinction, the fight isn’t over, friends.
We hope that the Chinese government will clarify these doubts, and, once and for all, remove pangolins from all traditional medicine practices, so conservationists can continue their work to save our species in the wild.
You can join the cause by purchasing a bottle of Pangolin Gin. Every bottle is a donation to the Pangolin Crisis Fund – and you get a pretty good sundowner to go with it.
That’s all from me for now, but until next time, keep fighting the good fight out there.