Location: northern India, Nepal, Bhutan, northern Indochina, Taiwan, southern China, Hainan
The peculiar-looking Chinese pangolin is one of just eight species belonging to the order Pholodia, meaning ‘scaled animals’. The pangolin is also known as a scaly anteater because, despite not being closely related to anteaters, it is highly specialised in feeding solely on ants and termites. When in danger, the pangolin can roll into a ball, leaving only the scaly parts of its body exposed, protecting itself from predators.
The Chinese pangolin has been intensively hunted for its meat, which is considered a delicacy, as well as for its skin, and scales, which have been used to scratch mosquito bites, due to their supposed antiseptic properties, or ground into a powder which is believed to have aphrodisiac properties and an ability to cure for skin diseases. Hunting is the main threat to the Chinese pangolin, as disturbance of its habitat has not been shown to have a large impact, provided its food source of termites and ants are not lost.
The Chinese pangolin is legally protected in the majority of countries it resides in, including Bangladesh, China, Taiwan, Thailand and India. It also occurs in some protected areas but, unfortunately, these measures have not been sufficient in reducing the illegal hunting and trade that takes place. While large seizures of illegally caught Chinese pangolins do occur, greater enforcement of laws and improved management of protected areas are required to prevent this devastating hunting.
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