China has upgraded the national protection status of its native pangolin species, in particular the Chinese Pangolin Manis pentadactyla, to Class I, the highest form of protection under national legislation.
The announcement was made last week by the National Forestry and Grasslands Administration (NFGA).
Since pangolins are all listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) under which all international commercial trade in them is banned, the move also means that all pangolins are effectively considered Class I protected animals in the country as well.
As noted by TRAFFIC, the NFGA has also committed to enhanced monitoring of pangolin populations, with additional field patrols to prevent poaching and improve and restore pangolin habitats. There will be greater efforts to raise awareness of the protected status of pangolins with tougher enforcement action taken against illegal trading, smuggling, and eating of pangolins and their parts.
The Chinese Pangolin is considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN, primarily threatened by indiscriminate hunting and poaching, mainly driven by demand for its meat and scales, the latter used in “traditional medicine” in China.
This week, the Chinese government also removed pangolin scales from its 2020 list of approved ingredients used in traditional Chinese medicine. They are reportedly no longer included in the latest edition of Chinese Pharmacopoeia, an official government manual of drugs covering traditional Chinese and Western medicines.
“Pangolins have had some very mixed press lately, so it is a welcome relief to hear of the strengthened protection and commitments made towards protecting the Chinese and other beleaguered pangolin species,” Xu Ling, Director of TRAFFIC’s China office, said in a statement.
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