Green Society says pangolins are endangered: they are harder to raise than giant pandas.

 Green Society says pangolins are endangered: they are harder to raise than giant pandas.

Ambulance personnel check the health of the pangolin rescued. Respondents Map

On June 5, Guangxi forestry authorities released a rescued pangolin in the wild. This is the first time that pangolins of China have been released in the wild in Guangxi since 2000. Official Website of Forestry Bureau of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region

At the end of March, Guangdong Wildlife Rescue Center received a batch of smuggled pangolins that were seized by customs. The picture shows a rescued pangolin undergoing CT examination in an animal hospital. Respondents Map

A pangolin tail was purulent and was examined and treated by ambulance personnel. Respondents Map

On June 8, the China Foundation for Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development (hereinafter referred to as the Green Society) announced a shocking news that the pangolin has become functionally extinct in mainland China.

The concept of functional extinction involves two aspects. On the one hand, a species can no longer satisfy its important functions in the ecosystem. On the other hand, the population of the species has been difficult to recover, or even to maintain reproduction in the natural state.

According to the field survey of the traditional distribution areas of pangolins in Guangxi, Jiangxi, Yunnan, Hunan, Anhui and Guangdong, and combined with the field records and visits of the partners and volunteers of the protection project of pangolins, only 11 pangolins were recorded and verified in the past three years, and no pangolins were monitored in the mainland of China for a long time. The existence of the population. At present, except for 15,000 to 20,000 pangolins in Taiwan, China, there are no or only sporadic individuals in other parts of the country. Therefore, it can be concluded that the pangolin population in mainland China is extremely rare and functionally extinct.

As the only extant scaly beetle mammal, pangolins feed mainly on termites and ants and live alone at night, usually in hollow trees or caves. Pangolins, known as forest guards, can eat up to 7 million termites and ants a year. In a forest area of about 350 mu, the termite population can be effectively controlled if only one pangolin is present.

Relevant experts said that the pangolin is facing a critical moment of life and death in mainland China. Only by speedily, scientifically, systematically and wholeheartedly promoting the protection of pangolin, can it be possible to avoid its complete extinction in mainland China.

From Common Species to Extremely Endangered Species

At present, there are eight known pangolins, including Chinese pangolin, Indian pangolin, Malay pangolin, Philippine pangolin, Big pangolin, Tree pangolin, South African pangolin and Long-tailed pangolin, which are distributed in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and southern Africa. Among them, pangolins are mainly distributed in the south of the Yangtze River.

Compared with other pangolins, Chinese pangolins have a slightly larger auricle, shorter head and shorter tail.

Professor Zhou Fang, a 71-year-old animal expert at Guangxi University, told reporters that it was common for him to see or kick pangolins during field surveys in South China in the 1980s, but by the end of the 1990s, it was rare to see pangolins again. When people want to study, they have no chance.

Wu Shibao, a professor at South China Normal University, who is one of the few experts studying pangolins in China, has written that the number of pangolins in China dropped by 88% - 94% from the 1960s to 2004, turning from common species to extremely endangered species.

The Green Club visited a large number of people who had hunted and hunted in the main habitats of pangolins in Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan. The respondents all said that they had not seen pangolins in the wild for 5-15 years. Green Society Secretary-General Zhou Jinfeng said.

Zhang Siyuan, the director of the Green Society Pangolin Project, found that in the past 30 years, almost no one had ever seen the pangolin. Most of the young people after 1980 and 1990 did not know or know the pangolin species.

Zhou Canying, president of Changsha Wildlife Conservation Association, who has led volunteers to search for pangolins in the forest for many times, told the Beijing News that since 2016, they have set up several infrared cameras in Hunan and Jiangxi areas where pangolins have been recorded, but so far no pangolins have been photographed.

Zhou Jinfeng, Secretary-General of the Green Society, told reporters that pangolins have been found in Fujian, Jiangxi and Guangxi in the past two years. However, during the follow-up investigation, the discoverers failed to provide further evidence, including photographic details and samples of pangolinsfeces. Therefore, it is not clear whether the observed pangolins came from the local area.

Considering that more Malay pangolins have been found in the areas where the pangolins are found, it is not possible to rule out that the pangolins found are smuggled in. Zhou Jinfeng said.

Dispute over Functional Extinction

Although the number of pangolins in mainland China is extremely scarce, whether they reach functional extinction remains controversial. Many pangolin researchers told reporters that judging whether a species has become functionally extinct requires extra caution and sufficient scientific evidence.

Dr. Zeng Yan, of the Scientific Committee on Endangered Species of the Peoples Republic of China, told reporters, The pangolin should not be functionally extinct. According to the data observed by infrared cameras and sporadic observations last year, there may be small self-sustaining populations in South China, but they are very small.

Considering that healthy populations still exist in Taiwan and Northern Vietnam, there is still a long way to go for the functional extinction of the pangolin species, she said.

Professor Wu Shibao of South China Normal University believes that from the point of view of conservation, the specific number is not the key point, and whether this number can maintain a certain population density is the concern. Although the number of pangolins in China is not as scarce as that of pandas, considering the wide geographical distribution, too low population density will make it difficult for pangolins to mate, thus increasing the potential risk of extinction. But whether functional extinction occurs still needs to be scientifically addressed.

Dr. Sun Jingmin, an expert on pangolins in Taiwan, told reporters that there was no scientific conclusion on the issue. Referring to other mammalian species, in general, functional extinction is possible if the number of individuals in the field is less than a few hundred. If connectivity between populations is low, functional extinction is more likely.

The survey conducted by the State Forestry Administration at the end of the last century showed that there were about 60,000 pangolins in the mainland of China, with ecological density ranging from 0.001 to 0.056 per square kilometer. By 2008, the number of pangolins in China was between 25100 and 49450. According to data released in 2018 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Wild Fauna and Flora, the number of pangolins has decreased by 90% in the past 20 years.

Pangolins may be more troublesome and expensive than pandas.

Little is known is a term often mentioned by pangolin experts. Because of the lack of provenance, the researchersunderstanding of pangolin mainly comes from historical data and the study of the habits of captive populations. However, the lack of understanding of the ecological habits of pangolin also brings more difficulties to artificial breeding.

According to a report released by the Green Society, pangolins reproduce slowly, usually mating in April and May each year, with a gestation period of about 5-7 months and only one child per year, usually one offspring per child. Therefore, the pangolin is difficult to recover through natural reproduction after its population declines sharply, and it is easy to be completely extinct due to human disturbance. More worrying is that the current human research on pangolin is very limited, so far no scientific and effective artificial breeding has been achieved.

Wu Shibao told the Beijing News that it is possible to maintain the survival of pangolins in the artificial environment as far as the current level of artificial breeding technology is concerned, but this does not mean that the breeding technology has matured. Pangolin has strong specialization in food, and has higher requirements in nutrition ratio and physical environment maintenance.

In March this year, a batch of captured pangolins were sent to Guangdong Wildlife Rescue Center for rescue. The food source of pangolins has become one of the most headaches for many rescue workers, including Zhang Siyuan. In addition to a batch of specially formulated food urgently prepared by experts from Guangdong Institute of Biological Resources Applied Research, which needs low temperature preservation, rescue workers also ordered dry black ants from Kaili, Guizhou Province, online, and sent local termite nests by courier from Wa villagers in Puer, Yunnan Province. u3002 For more than a month now, rescuers have been climbing trees or going deep into the woods to find, pick up ant nests and carefully transport them back to the rescue center as part of their daily work.

According to Wu Shibao, the cost of artificial breeding of pangolins is higher. Pangolins may be more troublesome and expensive than pandas.

Zeng Yan believed that the population of Pangolin pangolin China could be restored by artificial breeding for a long time. At the same time, the genetic diversity of Pangolin pangolin China mainland would be lost rapidly in the process of artificial breeding because of the small number of provenances. In addition, the artificial breeding population may also have new problems in the process of wilding. As a more environmentally adaptable protist species, the provenance of Pangolin is very difficult to find, which is a pity.

Dr. Zhu Shaohe, Director of the China Pangolin Research Center, believes that it is not the best choice to maintain the population of Pangolin in the short term by artificial breeding. It is also necessary to strengthen the protection of Pangolin and reintroduce Pangolin from Taiwan or abroad.

His team is trying to understand at the molecular level how pangolins cope with pathogens or how they attack pangolins, which may help people better rescue pangolins.

The legitimate demand for pangolins is still huge

According to the report issued by the Green Society, the main reason for the functional extinction of pangolin is human factors. Besides disturbing and destroying its habitat, the human killing caused by the demand for medicinal and dietary treatment of pangolin scales is another important reason for the sharp decline in the number of pangolin.

In many peoples minds, pangolins are more associated with food and medicines.

Eating, utilizing and habitat environmental changes are the main reasons for the rapid decline of pangolins. Wu Shibao told Xinjing Daily that in recent years, the main reason is the market utilization of medicines.

According to a survey by the International Wildlife Trade Research Organization (TRAFFIC), there is a large consumer group in Asia. Since the pangolins in Asia have been consumed so little, illegal businessmen have begun to trade pangolins from Africa. According to the organizations 2016 data, about 1 million pangolins have been captured worldwide in the past decade, of which about 1/10 have been smuggled to China. Over the past decade, more than 200 cases of pangolin smuggling have been seized in China, and more than 15,000 live and dead pangolins have been seized.

In 2016, the International Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) included eight pangolins in the appendix, i.e. a total ban on international trade. The proposal entered into force in 2017.

With the strengthening of law enforcement against illegal trade and the gradual emergence of the effect of public publicity and education, the illegal demand for pangolins, including edible and decorative products, has been reduced.

However, the legitimate demand for pangolins is still huge. The Chinese Pharmacopoeia records the main functions and treatments of pangolin, including detumescence, ulceration and lactation. In China, pangolin tablets can be used medicinally, but only for clinical use in designated hospitals and production of Chinese patent medicines.

From 2008 to 2015, the annual amount of pangolin consumption control disclosed by the State Forestry Administration, i.e. the approved amount of pangolin use, is about 26.5 tons per year, equivalent to 57,000 pangolins. The CITES trade database records show that China imported only 446 kg of opium (commerce, scientific research, education) annually between 2001 and 2014. This gap can only be filled through domestic inventories and illegal trade.

Data show that in 2018 alone, a total of 38.14 tons of pangolin scales were seized by six domestic customs offices, which means that about 60,000 pangolins were killed, most of them in Africa.

In order to protect Pangolin better, the Green Society suggested that the medical standard of Pangolin be abolished and deleted from the Pharmacopoeia, and that no longer be used in the future. The Chinese traditional medicine prescription containing pangolin ingredients already produced is sealed up and prohibited from being sold. Open destruction of stock armour will completely eliminate the possibility of entering the market.

There has been a precedent for abolishing the national standards for medicinal use of wildlife under key protection. In 1993, the State Council proposed in the Notice on Banning the Trade of Rhinoceros Horn and Tiger Bone that the medicinal standards of rhinoceros horn and tiger bone should be abolished and that rhinoceros horn and tiger bone pharmaceuticals should not be used again.

Protection needs to be raised to the national level

At present, pangolins are listed as endangered species in 51 countries and regions where they live. Chinese pangolins and Malayan pangolins were listed on the Red List of Endangered Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2014. The risk level is second only to extinction and extinction in the wild.

According to the degree of endangerment from high to low, the endangered list can be divided into three sub-categories: extremely endangered, endangered and vulnerable. In 2016, the endangerment level of giant pandas was reduced from endangered to vulnerable.

However, pangolins are still second-class protected wildlife in China. It has been many years since Pangolin became a national first-level wildlife protection, but no results have been achieved yet.

Zeng Yan said pangolins need to be given a clear identity in order to devote national efforts to rescue and protect them, which will effectively reduce the losses caused by the decentralization of technology and manual rescue.

Wu Shibao also said in the interview that since wild pangolins are hard to find, the rescue level should be improved and pangolins sent to rescue centers should be protected as well as possible. Rescue work still lacks systematic norms. Relevant departments should introduce unified technical regulations and rescue management system as soon as possible to standardize the qualification of rescue subjects and the standards and procedures in the process of rescue, release and follow-up monitoring.

A wildlife conservation expert who participated in the revision of the National Key Wildlife Conservation List said that the list had not been revised since its implementation in 1989. According to the plan, the newly revised catalogue may be issued before the end of this year, and pangolins are listed in the first-class list of protected wildlife in the revised version.

Source: Author of New Beijing News: Han Qinke, responsible editor: Li Wan_B11284