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article imageWorld's most trafficked animal gives Trump new way to hit China

By Karen Graham     Aug 8, 2020 in Politics
A petition from environmentalists to reprimand Beijing for illegally trading in an endangered species could ultimately bar U.S. imports of any wildlife from China amid heightened concerns about the role animals play in pandemics.
Pangolins, sometimes called scaly-anteaters, are mammals of the order Pholidota, from the ancient Greek meaning "horny scale." Pangolins have the distinction of being the only mammals to have large, protective keratin scales covering their skin.
These creatures are solitary animals, only meeting up to mate, producing a litter of one to three offspring. They live in burrows or the hollows of trees and are nocturnal. They dine on ants and termites, capturing them using their long tongues.
Sadly, pangolins are the most heavily trafficked mammals in the world. These scaly mammals are consumed in China as a luxury meat, and pangolin scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine and in Vietnam. About 100,000 are estimated to be trafficked every year to China and Vietnam, amounting to over one million over the past decade.
Pangolins are the most trafficked mammals in the world with their docile temperament making them eas...
Pangolins are the most trafficked mammals in the world with their docile temperament making them easy prey for hunters
Pangolins, as well as bats and other animals, are being studied as a possible intermediate host for the coronavirus. This makes them a prime target for Republicans looking to punish China for the spread of COVID-19, according to The Hill. Covid-19 has been linked to a group of viruses carried by bats, but efforts to trace its origins are ongoing.
Responding to a global outcry over live wildlife markets like the one is Wuhan, China believed to be the source of COVID-19, on June 5, 2020, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA) in China announced a plan to uplist pangolins from Class II state protection to Class I under the Wildlife Protection Law. On June 9, 2020, China also officially removed the pangolin scale from the 2020 edition of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Pharmacopoeia.
Legal petition filed for China violating wildlife treaty
On August 6, 2020, The Center for Biological Diversity and other conservation organizations filed a legal petition urging the U.S. secretary of the Interior to formally certify China for illegally trading in critically imperiled pangolins.
Myanmar is a hub for the illegal trafficking of wildlife such as pangolins -- a trade driven by dema...
Myanmar is a hub for the illegal trafficking of wildlife such as pangolins -- a trade driven by demand from China
Isaac Kasamani, AFP/File
If certification under the Pelly Amendment is granted, the U.S. government can sanction China, including banning all wildlife imports from the country. Basically, the Pelly Amendment provides restrictions on importation of fishery or wildlife products from countries which violate international fishery or endangered or threatened species programs.
The petition also points out that "despite recent actions by the Chinese government, legal exemptions and poor enforcement allow continued pangolin trade."
“Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal in the world, and China is the primary source of demand for pangolin scales,” said Nick Fromherz, senior attorney at the International Animal and Environmental Law Clinic of Lewis & Clark Law School. “While China has taken token steps to address the pangolin crisis since the COVID-19 outbreak, these steps are insufficient. Both the United States and China need to show leadership on this issue and do more to protect pangolins and end illegal trade.”
More about pangolins, coronavirus, China, pangolin trafficking, Trump administration
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