China grants first-level protection status to pangolins

The noble pangolin has at least been given the protection level that it deserves in China, moving the animal up to the panda level status.
On Friday, Chinas National Forestry and Grassland Administration announced that three species of pangolins are now under first-class state protection, an upgrade from their previous second-class state protection level.
Pangolins are rare, adorable creatures that are covered with a layer of scales meant to protect against predators. Unfortunately, their protective scales are also highly coveted by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, helping the pangolin to earn the unenviable title of the most heavily trafficked mammal on the planet.

Pangolin scales can reportedly be sold for about 800 yuan ($113) per kilogram in China. They are thought to help cure cancer, asthma, and other ailments as part of traditional Chinese medicine, making the animal a favorite target of poachers.
In addition, the pangolins meat is also highly prized as a delicacy in China. Previously it was used at official banquets to impress VIP guests. Back in 2017, a Shenzhen woman became known as the Pangolin Princess after her taste for the adorable endangered animal got her noticed on Chinese social media and by the police.
While China banned the hunting of the mammal in 2007 and halted the importation of pangolin products in 2018, the success of these measures has been limited.
Last year, Hangzhou customs seized 23 metric tons of pangolin scales in a single bust.

The upgrade in protection status comes after pangolins were fingered as potentially the animal that transferred the Covid-19 virus to humans.
While that virus has been hell on humanity, the Guardian notes that it may end up being a blessing on pangolin, forcing China to crack down hard on illegal wildlife trade and better protect the scaly critter.



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