Why are Pangolins so sought after in China?
New Delhi, Feb 15: Pangolins have grabbed news headlines in recent days after a research found out that the animal could be a possible host of novel coronavirus.
Scientists in China have preliminarily named the highly poached pangolin as the possible transmitter of coronavirus to humans, potentially linking the rare and enigmatic creature to coronavirus that has killed more than 1,500 people in China.
Now animal enthusiasts fear that anxiety over the new virus that originated in Wuhan, China, could further threaten the pangolin, whose eight species native to Asia and Africa range from vulnerable to critically endangered.
Pangolin, the most trafficked mammal in the world have been used extensively in traditional Chinese medicine, and their meat viewed as a luxury item by Chinese.
They are poached for their scales, which are used in traditional medicine although science does not endorse this. Unscrupulous witch doctors known as "tantriks" are responsible for the large-scale slaughter of these creatures due to superstition.
Why Panglolins are in demand in China
Meanwhile, traditional Chinese medicine, which utilises wild and domesticated animal products, is a $60 billion global industry, and is growing with the support of the Chinese government.
Recently, Chinese pharmaceutical companies received permits to use the scales of roughly 73,000 pangolins. The scales, which are made of the same substance as fingernails, are believed to have medicinal properties, and are the primary reason that pangolins are critically endangered.