Pangolins, the World’s Most-Trafficked Mammal, Are Now One of the Most Protected

Pangolins—the painfully-cute, scale-covered creatures that are the most trafficked mammals on the planet—are now one of the world’s most protected species.

By Kaleigh Rogers | MOTHERBOARD

Nations that agree to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), an international treaty to protect endangered plants and animals, voted Wednesday to add all eight species of pangolins to the Appendix I listing—the category for the most endangered species that enforces the strictest limitations. That means that all international commercial trade of pangolins is now banned.

“This decision will help give pangolins a fighting chance,” Susan Lieberman, the vice president of international policy for the Wildlife Conservation Society, said in a press release. “The world is standing up for the little guy with this pivotal decision for greater protection of the pangolin.”

Pangolins are poached for their scales, which are used in Chinese medicine, and for their meat, which is considered a delicacy in some parts of the world. But this demand has meant that more than 1 million pangolins have been poached over the last 10 years. Conservationists say it’s difficult to estimate how many are left in the wild, but their population may have dropped as much as 90 percent. Every species of pangolin is listed as either Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (the world’s biggest conservation organization).

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