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World’s Most Illegally Traded Mammal Earns Full Protection

More than 180 countries recently approved a ban on pangolin trafficking.

| 2 min read

More than 180 countries recently approved a ban on pangolin trafficking.

Pangolins — arguably some of the world’s strangest mammals — are also the most illegally traded. More than 180 nations have now taken action at a recent global wildlife summit, unanimously agreeing to place a total ban on international trade of all pangolin species.

They are the only mammals with protective keratin scales covering their bodies, and those scales fetch high demand for use in traditional Asian medicine. Pangolins are also prized for their meat. Feeding these demands has led to the poaching of more than one million wild pangolins over the past decade, according to National Geographic.

As The Guardian notes, the fact that these animals are easy prey — simply rolling up into a ball when threatened — hasn’t helped.

SEE ALSO: Eastern Gorillas are on the Verge of Extinction While Pandas Lose their Endangered Status

Of the four pangolin species in Asia, two are now classified as critically endangered and two are endangered, while all four African species are listed as vulnerable to extinction.

The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) summit, held in Johannesburg, has boosted pangolin protection to the highest level available, with the aim of preventing all commercial international trade in their body parts.

“This is a huge win and rare piece of good news for some of the world's most trafficked and endangered animals,” said Ginette Hemley, head of the World Wildlife Fund delegation at CITES.

“Giving pangolins full protection under CITES will eliminate any question about legality of trade, making it harder for criminals to traffic them and increasing the consequences for those who do.”

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