From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Indian Pangolins
Mains level : Wildlife trade and its prevention
The Madhya Pradesh forest department has radio-tagged an Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) for the first time.
IUCN status: Endangered
- India is home to two species of pangolin.
- While the Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) is found in northeastern India, the Indian Pangolin is distributed in other parts of the country as well as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
- Both these species are protected and are listed under the Schedule I Part I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
- Commonly known as ‘scaly anteaters’, the toothless animals are unique, a result of millions of years of evolution.
- Pangolins evolved scales as a means of protection. When threatened by big carnivores like lions or tigers they usually curl into a ball.
- The scales defend them against dental attacks from the predators.
Why this radio-tagging?
- The radio-tagging aims to know its ecology and develop an effective conservation plan for it.
- The radio-tagging is part of a joint project by the department and non-profit, the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) that also involves the species’ monitoring apart from other activities.
Why protect Pangolins?
- Pangolins are currently the most trafficked wildlife species in the world.
- These Scales has now become the main cause of the pangolin’s disappearance.
- The scales are in high demand in China, where they are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
- Pangolin meat is also in high demand in China and Southeast Asia.
- Consequently, pangolins have seen a rapid reduction in population globally. The projected population declines range from 50 per cent to 80 per cent across the genus.