Jun 08, 2020 04:56 PM

China Steps Up Protection of Pangolins, the ‘World’s Most Trafficked’ Mammal

What’s new: China said Friday it is increasing official protection of endangered pangolins, the scaly, cat-sized creatures that major conservation bodies believe are the world’s most-trafficked nonhuman mammals.

The National Forestry and Grassland Administration said in a notice (link in Chinese) on its website that it had raised the status of all pangolin species from level-two protected wild animals to level one. The upgrade means that people who poach, harm, transport or trade wild pangolins will be subject to harsher penalties.

The background: Pangolins are nocturnal, ant-eating animals native to China, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa.

Traditional Chinese medicine uses pangolin scales, meat and blood to treat a variety of ailments. China was the most common destination for “large-quantity” shipments of pangolin scales and whole animals and a major exporter of body parts between 2010 and 2015, according to a 2017 Traffic report.

CITES, the multinational wildlife conservation treaty, considers all eight species of pangolins at risk of extinction. Both the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Traffic, the global wildlife-trade monitoring network, have called pangolins the most trafficked animals in the world.

Photos circulated online during China’s initial coronavirus outbreak in January showed several exotic species on sale at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, the center of the country’s epidemic. Following a public outcry, the government later imposed a temporary ban on wild animal trading and said it would amend the wildlife protection law this year.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh ( and editor Joshua Dummer (

You've accessed an article available only to subscribers
Share this article
Open WeChat and scan the QR code