A global effort is growing to save the scaled mammals known as pangolins—the world’s most poached and trafficked animal.
These odd, scaled mammals are the most poached in the world—and they’re going extinct
By Amy Yee Mar. 13, 2019 , 8:00 AM
UGANDA—The small pangolin tucked its head toward its belly and curled its tail around its body. Clad in large scales, it resembled a pine cone. After a moment, the creature—a mammal, despite appearances—uncoiled and raised its slender head. Currantlike eyes blinked and a pointy nose trembled inquisitively. Its feet had tender pink soles tipped with long, curved claws, but it did not scratch or fight.
This animal, a white-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis), was lucky. It had most likely been illegally caught in a nearby forest not long ago; a tip had led the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to rescue it. One of its brown scales had been ripped off, perhaps for use in a local witchcraft remedy. But after a long, jarring car ride on bumpy dirt roads, the pangolin was being released back into the wild in a national park. (UWA officials asked Science not to reveal the park’s name because that might tip off poachers.) Weighing just 2.5 kilograms, the pangolin heaved as if panting.
The rescue and release was part of a growing global effort to save pangolins, which face a bleak future as the world’s most poached and trafficked animal. They are in demand for both their meat and their scales, believed in some Asian countries to have medicinal properties. The past 2 months have seen record-setting seizures of pangolin body parts both in Asia and Africa.
It’s stuff like this that makes me extremely upset with Asians. They make everything we use, so they are not dumb, but, they are so damn pig-ignorant stupid to think so many animal parts are somehow “magical.” Even when faced with five freaking thousand years of evidence showing that their beliefs are naught but fairy tales. Disgusting. Every single one of them. And Africans! I did not know about people from that continent doing this, but I am frankly not surprised. I advocate killing them all and having God sort them out.