In the latest edition of The Chinese Pharmacopoeia, a manual containing instructions for the identification of Chinese and Western medicines, there is no longer a pangolin shell on the list of approved ingredients, due to what it says is “the endangerment of this wild animal species.”
A number of environmental organizations have welcomed China’s decision to remove pangolins from the official list of animals whose shells are used in traditional medicine to treat humans and consider it crucial to the preservation of one of the world’s most endangered mammals due to illegal trade.
Last week, Chinese authorities raised the status of these animals to the highest level, classing them as the same protection class as pandas, according to the BBC.
Pangolins are close to being cut out because people illegally hunt them for meat and shells, the main ingredient of which is keratin, which it has in human nails and rhino horn. In traditional Chinese medicine, powder from the shell of the pangolin is used to improve circulation and alleviate inflammation. Pangolin meat in China and Vietnam is considered a treat.
At the end of March, information emerged that the coronavirus pandemic was linked to wet markets and pangolins, but there is not yet sufficient evidence to do so.
Paul Thomson of the Association “Save the Pangolins” believes this could be one of the most important steps in the conservation of the species.
The decision by the Chinese authorities to remove the pangolins from the list of traditional Chinese medicines could be a key step we have long waited for. It is hoped the next move will try to implement the decision and influence the change in consumer behavior, Thomson said.
And Katheryn Wise of the World Animal Protection Association welcomes the “great news” and calls on beijing’s official to make the same decision for other wildlife species that “like pangolins, people “steal” from nature, put in cages and increase the possibility of infection spreading.”
China has banned the consumption of live wildlife animals following an outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, but some species are still being hunted for traditional medicines or for fur.
Nicole Benjamin-Fink of conservation beyond Borders believes that whether they transmit pangolins coronavirus or not, the time has come when the illegal trade of this animal species should stop.
Let’s hope this ban is the first in a series, when it comes to all wild animal species used in traditional Chinese medicine, she said.
Pangolins feed on ants and other insects. They come from Africa and Asia and all eight species are protected by international law, but trade nevertheless continues to flourish.