The animal’s uniqueness unfortunately has prompted humans to hunt them. More than a million wild pangolins have been killed in the last decade to feed the rising appetite in China and Vietnam.
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Hong Kong police confiscated 25 boxes of frozen pangolins

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Hong Kong police and customs officers in an anti-smuggling operation confiscated HK$1.45 million worth of pangolin, an endangered species and a Chinese delicacy. Officers took enforcement action after spotting six people loading goods onto a speedboat at Che Keng Tuk Road in Sai Kung. Two other men from the vessel fled to the shore of Kau Sai Chau, an island offshore of the area. A police spokesman said that a total of 25 boxes – five on shore and 20 on the boat – of suspected frozen pangolin were seized. "Officers also seized a vehicle which was suspected to be used for smuggling.” The eight suspected smugglers evaded arrest as the operation closed in. They remain at large, and the case is still under investigation. Customs had warned earlier that smuggling gangs had moved their activities closer to the marine boundaries of Hong Kong and the mainland to avoid being caught. Story by Christy Leung, South China Morning Post

61 Sunda pangolins saved

Sixty-one wild Sunda pangolins were handed over to Save Vietnam’s Wildlife by Thái Bình Province’s Police Department. Previously, the police and the provincial Forest Management Department seized a truck illegally transporting the pangolins. The police are investigating two persons who were found packing the pangolins in styrofoam boxes with small holes, surrounded by other boxes containing ice, and loading the boxes on their truck.
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A pangolin is examined in the centre in Cúc Phương National Park. — Photo Save Vietnam’s Wildlife

CITES unites to change the fate of pangolins

Pangolins—also known as scaly anteaters–have received increased protections under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES member nations, referred to as “Parties,” voted to increase protections for pangolins by voting in favor of proposals to transfer pangolins from Appendix II to Appendix I of the treaty. There are eight species of pangolins—four are found in Asia, including one that is endemic to the Philippines, while four others occur in Africa. Leading up to and during this meeting, the United States worked closely with a coalition of countries and non-government organizations committed to gaining support for the Appendix I-listing proposals.

Pangolin, the most hunted animal on earth

Pangolins, or scaly anteaters as they are otherwise known, are unique mammals covered in hard scales, comprised of keratin. They predate almost exclusively on ants and termites and are predominantly nocturnal and elusive, secretive mammals.

The word pangolin is derived from the Malay word ‘penggulung’ which means roller – representative of how pangolins behave when they feel threatened, rolling up into a ball. Paleo-archaeological evidence suggests pangolins may have evolved in Europe but the extant species are found only in Asia and Africa. They fulfil a similar ecological niche to anteaters in South America, but are unrelated, each having evolved to fill similar ecological roles through convergent evolution.

Illegal trade in South Asia, however, has now rendered the scaly mammals the most trafficked animal on earth, with some estimates claiming that sales now account for up to 20 per cent of the entire wildlife black market.

In response to the pangolin's plight, numerous campaigns have been launched to raise awareness, including the SavePangolins organisation and an app, Roll with the Pangolins, which was endorsed by Prince William in his role as President of United for Wildlife. What's more, in 2012 Sir David Attenborough chose the Sunda pangolin, a species distributed throughout South East Asia, as one of his ten favourite species he would 'save' from extinction.

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