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Good News: 180 Countries Approve Ban on Pangolin, the World's Most Trafficked Mammal

Sep 29, 2016 09:44 AM EDT
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Good news! The world's most heavily trafficked (and weirdest) mammal on Earth, pangolins, could be saved from extinction as the UN wildlife conference on Wednesday has approved a worldwide ban on pangolins.

According to a report from the Associated Press, about 180 countries participating at the meeting of CITES showed support for the ban. Of the participants, only Indonesia objected while China, Oman, Japan, Namibia and Madagascar abstained. A decision is expected to push through at the upcoming plenary session to be held next week.

“This is a huge win and rare piece of good news for some of the world’s most trafficked and endangered animals. This eliminates any question about legality of trade, making it harder for criminals to traffic them and increasing the consequences for those who do," said Ginette Hemley, head of the WWF delegation to CITES via The Guardian.

Covered in scales and are relatively small in size, pangolins are nocturnal mammals that feed on ants for food. These animals could curl its armored body into a small spiral but has a tongue that's longer than its body length, Smithsonian reports.

Pangolin poaching is prevalent as these animals have been used for traditional Asian medicine. Their highly coveted scales are believed to be a cancer cure and weight loss remedy.

The IUCN reports that this critically endangered animals' population has declined by about 80 percent in the last 21 years and is expected to continue to decline by 80 percent in the next 21 years. AP notes that about a million pangolins have been killed due to poaching in the last decade.

“This decision will help give pangolins a fighting chance. The world is standing up for the little guy with this pivotal decision. These species need extra protection and now they will get it," said Dr. Susan Lieberman from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

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