China has officially removed pangolin scales from the list of approved ingredients for Chinese Traditional Medicine in a move to try and limit the poaching and trafficking of the animal.
The small insectivore native to parts of Africa and Asia has been called the most trafficked mammal in the world. According to the UN Wildlife Crime Report 2020, the equivalent of almost 142,000 trafficked pangolins were seized worldwide in 2018. The number’s quick rise suggest that the poaching of the animal has increased, predominantly in Africa, which has been corroborated by hunters in Uganda and Cameroon, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
According to the UN report, between 50 and 70 percent of the pangolin scales seized were headed for China, with Vietnam being the second most common destination. Nigeria has emerged as the most common country of origin of seized pangolin scales. Almost 60 percent of seized pangolin parts came from the country in 2018, up from only around 20 percent in 2015. Other common origin countries were the DRC and Cameroon. Pangolin parts originating from Asia almost disappeared from seizures. While in 2015, they made up almost 80 percent, that number was down to 5-10 percent in 2018, as the number of animals in the wild has already been depleted somewhat on the continent.