The pangolin is the world’s most trafficked mammal is generally known in wildlife circles. But a video that has emerged as part of a two-year study by Oxford researchers and others shows how brutally the animal is treated in parts of India. The footage from Assam shows the pangolin clinging to a tree for life as its tail is tugged. The hunters cut the tree and then light a fire to smoke it out. Once captured, the torture continues as it is bludgeoned and bleeding and finally thrown into boiling water! Clearly, as noted this is not only a conservation issue but also one of animal welfare.
An Indian pangolin © Conservation India
The animal is targeted for its scales that earn the hunters a big whopping amount running into a lakh! Used in traditional Asian medicine particularly in China and Vietnam, the scales are made of keratin and have no proven medicinal value, says the study. It is also used as decorations and in jewellery. Pangolin meat is also considered to be a delicacy in some countries. There are eight species of pangolin, all of which are considered threatened with extinction on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
There is no emphasising the fact that only when the buying stops will the killing stop. World Animal Protection that works to prevent cruelty to animals around the world has called for some measures, following the study.
It has called for strong enforcement of national and international laws; removal of pangolins from the Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of; combined and coordinated efforts by governments, NGOs and the traditional Asian medicine community to eliminate consumer demand for pangolin-based traditional Asian medicines, particularly in China and Vietnam; support for alternative livelihoods and education programmes within rural communities wherever pangolins are found globally, to stop the slaughter.
The study is published in the open-access journal Nature Conservation.