Pangolin, world’s most poached scaled mammal, rescued in Dalma Sanctuary
Forest officials in Jharkhand’s Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary rescued a Pangolin and later released it in the forest. The animal - world’s most trafficked and poached scaled mammal – was spotted on Sunday along with a one and half month-old calf of a barking deer. It was later released in a safer part of the Dalma forest on Monday after treating it throughout the night at Maklukocha forest rest house, forest officials said.
“We spotted the Pangolin on the fringes of Dalma Sanctuary yesterday and brought it to the Maklukocha rest house. The villagers had also handed us a 45-day-old calf of barking deer. We have released the Pangolin in a safer part of the forest with adequate and easily available food. They mainly feed on termites, ants, small insects and such species. We will release the deer calf after some days as he is still too little to survive on his own,” Dinesh Chandra, Dalma ranger, said Monday.
Chandra said there are many Pangolins in Dalma Sanctuary but they are vulnerable to extinction as they are world’s most trafficked scaled mammals. “Pangolins are trafficked and poached in a large-scale due to their scaled skins which is used in making costly fashion items. Hence, we keep a cloe eye on their movement and status,” added Chandra.
On January 16 this year, authorities in Hong Kong had seized 8.3 tons of Pangolin scales, representing about 13, 800 Pangolins. Same month, thousands of Pangolin scales were seized by Ugandan officials while on February 7, custom officials had seized 30 tons of frozen Pangolins in Malaysia, ironically just ahead of World Pangolin Day on February 16.
In 2014, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had classified all eight pangolin species – four of which live in Asia and four in Africa – as threatened with extinction. And in 2017, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) had banned international trade in Pangolins.
As per UN Environment and international wildlife organizations, large-scale trafficking of Pangolin is driven by a belief in pangolins’ magical and curative properties and a demand for their meat. When mixed with bark from certain trees, the scales are thought to neutralize witchcraft and evil spirits.
“If buried near a man’s door they are said to give an interested woman power over him. The smoke from their scales is thought to improve cattle health, keep lions away, and cure ailments like nose-bleeds,” a report by African Wildlife Foundation said.
“Although their scales are made of keratin—the same substance that makes up human hair and nails—they are in high demand in certain Asian countries where the scales are believed to cure illnesses ranging from cancer to asthma, and their meat is considered a delicacy,” the report said.
In some areas, tribes believe a pangolin sighting indicates there will be a drought and the only way to prevent it is by killing the animal,” the report further stated.
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