Trawling: a catastrophe that must be stopped

Trawling is a method of fishing that involves pulling a fishing net through
the water behind one or more boats. Trawling can be divided into bottom
trawling and midwater trawling, depending on how high the trawl (net) is in
the water column.

Trawling, which has been widely criticized for its use, causes damage to
the seabed and coral reefs. It is estimated that each time the trawl net is
pulled, about 5 to 25 percent of the seabed living environment is lost.

Davood Mirshekar, head of the marine ecosystem protection office at the
Department of Environment (DOE), told YJC that “due to the special
ecosystem sensitivities in the Persian Gulf and also the adverse effects of
climate change on biodiversity, we are opposed to any kind of trawling in
the Persian Gulf………

Bill to ban dangerous wild animals as pets advances in Nevada

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

April 21, 2021 0 Comments

Bill to ban dangerous wild animals as pets advances in Nevada

Nevada, along with North Carolina, Oklahoma, Alabama and Wisconsin, are the only outliers without such a law, and that’s why we are excited to see the state finally move to pass one. Photo by Shivang Mehta/Alamy Stock Photo154SHARES

Nevada, one of the last remaining states without a ban on the ownership of exotic wild animals as pets, is now moving to pass a law to do exactly that.

A bill, SB 344, recently passed the Senate and now awaits action in the Assembly. It would, among other measures, end the private ownership of animals like big cats, bears, hyenas, elephants, wolves and primates. The bill would also end the exploitation of wild animals, and particularly cubs, by unscrupulous roadside zoos and exhibits that offer up these animals for petting and photo ops.

As our investigations have revealed, animals in this industry are horribly mistreated. Jeff Lowe, one of the roadside zoo owners seen in the Netflix series “Tiger King,” smuggled tiger cubs into hotel rooms in Las Vegas for paying visitors to pet them and pose with them. The city eventually confiscated a tiger cub, a liliger cub (the hybrid offspring of a male lion and a female tiger) and a young lemur from him. The animals were underweight and suffering from several health conditions.

Ending such cruelty wherever it exists is an important priority for our organizations and to date 45 states have passed laws to protect citizens from those who exploit wild animals in this manner. Many of these states acted swiftly after one incident that remains raw in our nation’s collective memory: a suicidal man in Zanesville, Ohio, released nearly 50 big cats and other dangerous animals from his backyard menagerie in 2012, creating a major public safety hazard and a tragic situation for the animals who authorities were forced to shoot and kill.

Nevada, along with North Carolina, Oklahoma, Alabama and Wisconsin, are the only states with virtually no laws on this issue, and that’s why we are excited to see the state finally move to pass one. At the federal level, the Humane Society Legislative Fund is working to secure passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which has been reintroduced in the House and Senate and previously passed the House. The bills would prohibit public contact with big cats like tigers, lions and leopards and ban keeping these animals as pets. Federal action is necessary because these animals may be moved across state lines for such activities.

The Nevada bill makes allowances for those who already own exotic animals as pets, permitting them to keep the animals so long as they meet some basic animal welfare and safety requirements, although they will be prohibited from acquiring new animals. Zoos and all U.S. Department of Agriculture licensed exhibitors can continue to keep animals like big cats, bears, etc., and can acquire more of these animals, but will be required to meet a few additional requirements, including creating emergency plans for the animals. The facilities should also have no USDA citations within the past three years for violations in which a dangerous wild animal’s health and well-being or the public safety was jeopardized.

These are commonsense requirements and ones most Nevadans support. Wild animals have very unique needs and suffer terribly at the hands of unqualified individuals. In the United States, wild animals have been found badly neglected and living in deplorable conditions in places ranging from junkyards to basements.

It often falls upon sanctuaries and animal protection organizations to clean up the mess these irresponsible owners create. Two years back, a tiger was rescued from a garage in Houston, and earlier this year authorities in San Antonio found a tiger cub freezing in a backyard during a historic winter storm. Both animals, Loki and Elsa, have since found forever homes at our Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch. However, no organization has the capacity to continue rehoming the countless exotic pets that enter U.S. homes each day, and we need to tackle this problem at the root, by preventing irresponsible breeding and ownership.

Captive exotic animals also create a major problem for law enforcement authorities. In Nevada, for instance, in a well-publicized incident in 2012, a male and female chimpanzee escaped from a backyard cage in a residential neighborhood after the male chimpanzee ripped the cage from the concrete and then broke through a padlocked gate. Police responded to emergency calls with more than 20 squad cars as the chimpanzees ran amok, climbing into cars, pounding on vehicles, and banging on windows of homes. The male chimpanzee was shot and killed when he darted toward a crowd of onlookers.

There should be no debate over this issue: chimpanzees, elephants, tigers, leopards and wolves are not pets and they do not belong inside someone’s basement or garage or backyard. If you live in Nevada, please urge your lawmakers to pass SB 344 and get this law on the books without delay. It is time we stop this abuse for good, in Nevada and everywhere it exists.

Breaking news: Maryland lawmakers ban wildlife killing contests

April 9, 2021 0 Comments

Breaking news: Maryland lawmakers ban wildlife killing contests

Wildlife killing contests have increasingly come under the scrutiny of Americans after we began to expose the carnage with undercover investigations in Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Indiana and Texas. Photo by the HSUS20.9KSHARES

Maryland legislators have just passed a bill banning wildlife killing contests—cruel events where participants compete to win cash and prizes for killing the most or the heaviest animals.

The vote comes just over a year after we did an undercover investigation of such contests in the state that targeted foxes, coyotes and raccoons. Our investigators documented participants bringing in red foxes, their mouths zip-tied shut and their tiny bodies riddled with bullets from high-powered rifles. They tossed the dead animals into piles for weighing or counting.

To lure the animals to their death, contestants used digital technology that mimics the sound of prey or even young animals in distress.

Our footage outraged Marylanders and soon after the House of Delegates passed a bill to ban these killing contests by a landslide vote. But before the Senate could take up the bill, the legislature shut down for the year due to the pandemic.

Fortunately, the bill’s author, Del. Dana Stein, quickly reintroduced it in the 2021 legislative session, with Sen. Ron Young as the Senate sponsor. The bill moved forward with lightning speed, guided by HSUS Maryland state director Jennifer Bevan-Dangel and the group Maryland Votes for Animals, and passed both chambers this week. Organizations including the Sierra Club Maryland Chapter, the Animal Welfare Institute, In Defense of Animals and Project Coyote provided support.

The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Larry Hogan. We expect he will either sign it or let it pass into law without his signature.

Maryland is on track to become the eighth state to ban wildlife killing contests in just the last seven years—the others being Vermont, New Mexico, ArizonaMassachusettsColorado, California and Washington. These events have increasingly come under the scrutiny of Americans after we began to expose the carnage with undercover investigations in Maryland, New YorkNew JerseyIndiana and Texas.

These events, with names like “Moondog Madness Coyote Tournament” and “Good Ol’ Boys Fall Predator Tournament,” glorify wanton killing and are not that much different from dogfighting and cockfighting, which have been outlawed in all U.S. states. Children are often present and are even encouraged to participate, inuring them to the violence at a young age. In Maryland, we found children playing among the dead animals and even helping to drag them to the judging area.

Wildlife killing contests are still held in nearly all of the 43 states where they are legal, but that is changing rapidly. Americans increasingly view animals like coyotes and foxes, who have long been persecuted because of misconceptions and are typically targeted in these events, with compassion. They also recognize the important role that these native carnivores play in a healthy ecosystem, and are acknowledging the wide variety of humane, effective strategies that are available to help them coexist with our other wild neighbors. Many more states are now considering similar bills to prohibit wildlife killing contests, including New York, New Jersey and Oregon.

We are grateful to Maryland lawmakers for acting decisively to end this cruel practice. We have incredible momentum in this fight right now and we need to keep it up and end these contests wherever they exist. If you live in a state where wildlife contests are still being held, please visit and download our toolkit to learn how you can help end them.

Who will enforce Roxy’s Law?

by Marc

The New Mexico Legislature (barely) passed the Wildlife Conservation and Public Safety Act, better known as Roxy’s Law, making some forms of trapping on public land a misdemeanor, effective April 1, 2022. That’s no April Fool’s joke: the law will not take effect for a year.

Any law outlawing any form of trapping is a step forward for wildlife, however small. But in a state with a poor history of law enforcement and a game department which promotes hunting and trapping, one might wonder whether this law will provide any real protection for dogs on hiking trails, the main motivation for passing the law, not to mention (as legislators and lobbyists rarely do) wildlife. The answer may be found in an obscure 1912 state law still on the books.

According to Section 17-2-20 NMSA 1978: “Every net, trap, explosive, poisonous or stupefying substance, or device used or intended for use in taking or killing game or fish in violation of this chapter is declared to be a public nuisance and may be abated and summarily destroyed by any person and it shall be the duty of every officer authorized to enforce this chapter to seize and summarily destroy the same and no prosecution or suit shall be maintained for such destruction.”

I am not an attorney, but my reading of this century-old law is that once Roxy’s Law takes effect, anyone has the legal right to seize or destroy a trap (such as a steel-jawed leghold trap) or a poisonous device (such as an M-44) found on public land. Moreover, conservation officers now have a legal duty to seize and destroy traps and poisons found on public land. Or to put it simply, New Mexicans will soon have the legal right to “steal traps.”

Clark County urges state to ban ‘barbaric’ wildlife killing contests

Clark County Commissioners, from left, Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Tick Segerblom and Jim Gib ...Clark County Commissioners, from left, Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Tick Segerblom and Jim Gibson during a break in a commission meeting at the Clark County Government Center in Las Vegas Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhotoClark County Commissioners, from left, William McCurdy II, Michael Naft, Justin Jones, Chairman ...Clark County Commissioners, from left, William McCurdy II, Michael Naft, Justin Jones, Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Jim Gibson and Tick Segerblom during a commission meeting at the Clark County Government Center in Las Vegas Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhotoMore StoriesNellis AFB commits land for first responder vehicle training complexFood service and hospitality workers can now get vaccinesNevada adds highest one-day total of new COVID cases in nearly a monthState: Vaccine groups not changing, despite unused appointments

By Shea Johnson 

Las Vegas Review-JournalMarch 2, 2021 – 4:21 pm   Don’t miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.

Clark County commissioners on Tuesday formally urged Nevada to ban wildlife killing contests — a form of hunting competition already barred by neighboring states that activists have castigated as “unethical,” “barbaric” and a “sick bloodsport.”

In such contests, single shooters or teams of two set out at dawn to kill as many coyotes, rabbits, bobcats or other small mammals as they can, according to activists, who say that animals are then often thrown away and that lead ammunition strewn on public lands risks being ingested by wildlife and poisoning the food chain.

Participants compete for money or other prizes, the county said, and because western states such as California, Arizona and New Mexico have already banned the practice, Nevada has recently become a destination for contest organizers.

There have been more than two dozen competitions in Nevada in recent years, at least four which have occurred in the county, according to a resolution unanimously adopted by the commission imploring the Nevada Department of Wildlife “to take immediate action” to outlaw the contests.

“I am proud to have sponsored this resolution, which will help to ensure that the public is safe from stray bullets by unethical shooters in a hurry to kill as many animals as possible and protect our state’s wildlife from inhumane practices and unnecessary slaughter,” Commissioner Justin Jones said in a statement.

Ultimately the authority to establish a ban falls on the state Board of Wildlife Commissioners, a nine-member panel appointed by the governor, and not the state’s wildlife agency.

State biologists will, however, provide scientific information requested by the Wildlife Commission when the board considers any regulatory changes, which is a lengthy and public process, Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman C. Douglas Nielsen said.RJ POLITICSTeam coverage from Las Vegas, Carson City and DCSign up for our free RJ Politics newsletter. SIGN UP By signing up you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. Unsubscribe at any time.

“It is not our role to determine what is acceptable to society,” Nielsen said in an email about the state agency, adding that “if the department is asked for its recommendations, they are based on science.”

Resolution supported by activists

Wildlife activists immediately praised the county’s decision, noting that it marked the first forward movement against the contests in Nevada six years after the state Wildlife Commission voted 7-1 to deny a petition seeking to end them.

“With the passage of this historic resolution to condemn the scourge of wildlife killing contests in our state, Nevada has been put on the path toward joining the bevy of other states that have already eliminated these barbaric practices,” said Annoula Wylderich, the Nevada state director for Animal Wellness Action, in a statement.

Connie Howard, the chair of conservation and public lands for the Sierra Club Toiyabe Chapter, had written a letter of support stating that “nothing is more antithetical” to the club’s mission of wildlife preservation and protection than “killing contests that glorify the killing of animals purely for blood sport with the intention of seeing who can kill the most.”

And Patrick Donnelly, the Nevada state director at the Center for Biological Diversity, underscored that there was no evidence that killing coyotes reduces human conflict or the depredation of livestock.

“We need to show respect for our native wildlife, not treat it as fodder in some sick bloodsport,” Donnelly said in a statement.

In passing the resolution, commissioners also clearly delineated a distinction between the competitions and hunting. The county, according to its resolution, “values hunting as a method of food gathering, recreation, wildlife management, and protecting private property.”

New Mexico Trapping Ban Clears First Legislative Hurdle

Legislation to prohibit traps, snares and wildlife poisons from being used on public lands across New Mexico has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

By Associated Press, Wire Service ContentFeb. 2, 2021, at 8:26 p.m.More

U.S. News & World Report

New Mexico Trapping Ban Clears First Legislative HurdleMore


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Legislation to prohibit traps, snares and wildlife poisons from being used on public lands across New Mexico cleared its first legislative hurdle Tuesday.Recommended VideosPowered by AnyClipThis 250-Pound Bear Somehow Got Trapped In A Water Tank2KPlay Video PLAYINGThis 250-Pound Bear Somehow Got Trapped In A Water TankWatch: Cops Save Hawk Trapped In A NetCamera Traps In One Of The World’s Most Remote Areas Capture Dazzling AnimalsThis Gecko Has Been Trapped In Amber For 54 Million YearsHummingbird-Sized Dinosaur Found Trapped In Amber For 99 Million Years

Environmentalists and animal advocacy groups testified on behalf of the measure during a Senate committee meeting Tuesday, saying that New Mexico needs to join neighboring states and ban what they described as a cruel and outdated practice.

Rural residents and wildlife conservation officers said trapping remains an important tool for managing wildlife and protecting livestock. They pointed to changes adopted last year by the state Game Commission after a lengthy public process, saying lawmakers should give the trapping rules a chance to work before imposing a sweeping ban.

Under the rules, trappers have to complete an education course and restrictions were imposed on setting traps and snares around designated trailheads and on select tracts of public lands in New Mexico.

Designed largely to reduce the hazard of traps to hikers and their dogs, the prohibitions include mountainous areas east of Albuquerque, along with swaths of national forest along highways leading to ski areas near Santa Fe and Taos. In the southern part of the state, it includes the eastern portion of the Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks National Monument.

“The concerns that have been expressed over the years by the Legislature and by members of the urban public have actually already been resolved,” said Kerrie Cox Romero with the New Mexico Council of Outfitters and Guides. “This bill provides no recognition of that effort.”

Cox Romero said much of the land that would be affected by the bill is remote and rarely sees human activity other than trappers.

Supporters of the legislation argued that several pet dogs have been injured despite last year’s rule changes and that more needs to be done to ensure public safety given New Mexico’s push to increase outdoor recreation.

Kevin Bixby, executive director of the Southwest Environmental Center in Las Cruces, said he was hiking over the weekend and saw many others doing the same.

“Traps on public lands pose a threat to our members and all public land users,” he told lawmakers. “They’re like land mines basically waiting to harm whatever unfortunate creature happens to step on them — whether it’s a wild animal or pet dog or a horse carrying a rider or god forbid a human being.”

Supporters also raised concerns about traps hampering efforts in southwestern New Mexico to restore the endangered Mexican gray wolf.

Jessica Johnson, chief government affairs officer for Animal Protection Voters, said there was an effort to consider the concerns of ranchers and sportsmen when drafting the legislation and exceptions were included for private and tribal land. The bill also would allow federal and state wildlife managers to use nonlethal traps to deal with problem predators.

Violating provisions of the proposed trapping ban would amount to a misdemeanor.

The measure must be considered by another committee before reaching the full Senate for a vote.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Should California ban bear hunting? PauseMuteLoaded: 0% Fullscreen

By Megan Goldsby KCBS Radio

a day ago

A Bay Area state senator is trying to ban bear hunting in California, but the hunting and wildlife lobby is pushing back.

San Francisco State Senator Scott Wiener said the ban on hunting black bears would stop the animal from going the way of the brown bear.

“Brown bears are extinct in California due to being hunted to extinction,” he told KCBS Radio.

Wiener said the ban would follow bans on hunting bobcats in the state, and the use of hounds to track bears while hunting.

“I’m not criticizing anyone for hunting,” the state senator noted. “A lot of people do want to hunt. But, we also have the obligation to take a step back as Californians and look at what our values are. A lot of people are, frankly, surprised to hear that we still allow recreational black bear hunting.”

Bill Gaines is not one of them. He’s the principal at Gaines and Associates, which lobbies for wildlife-related issues.

Gaines told KCBS Radio that of the 40 senate districts in California, only one of them does not have a bear in it.

“But the other 39 senate districts do have problems with bears, and eliminating the ability to hunt them is going to eliminate the ability to manage them,” he said.

Gaines said bears have been breaking into cabins in Tahoe and ruining beekeepers’ livings by knocking over their hives.

Plus, he added, money raised by bear hunting supports conservation efforts.

“You have to buy a bear tag,” Gaines said. “They’re roughly about $50, and those monies go into what we call the big game management account, which is administered by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.”

Wiener doesn’t think that justifies hunting bears.

“We definitely should be funding conservation efforts, but to suggest that the only way we can fund it is by allowing hunting of bears – I just don’t agree with that argument,” he said. “We could also take the position, ‘well, we want more conservation money so let’s quadruple the number of bear tags that we issue

House members reintroduce bill to ban cub petting, keeping big cats as pets

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

January 11, 2021 0 Comments

House members reintroduce bill to ban cub petting, keeping big cats as pets

Americans today are more aware than ever before about the horrors that big cats endure in captivity at the hands of exhibitors and roadside zoo owners. Photo by the HSUS236SHARES

A bill that would prohibit public contact with big cats like tigers, lions and leopards and ban the possession of these animals as pets was swiftly reintroduced in the U.S. House today, suggesting that the measure is poised for early action in Congress.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act had already passed the House in the last Congress with nearly two-thirds of members supporting it but the session ended before it could be taken up by the Senate. It was reintroduced today by Reps. Michael Quigley, D-Ill., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn, the original sponsors of the bill, and we will be working with all of our might to ensure it becomes law.

Americans today are more aware than ever before about the horrors that big cats endure in captivity at the hands of exhibitors and roadside zoo owners like Joe ExoticTim StarkKevin “Doc” Antle and Jeff Lowe. Cub-petting activities offered by these ramshackle operations provide baby tigers, lions and other big cats for the public to pet, feed, play with and be photographed with. Some exhibitors haul big cat cubs to fairs, festivals, shopping malls and other random venues and charge people to interact with the babies.

As Humane Society of the United States undercover investigations have revealed, these practices inflict cruelty and suffering on so many levels. Tigers are bred continually in order to provide a steady supply of infants. The cubs are torn from their mothers at birth. They are fed irregularly, constantly woken from their sleep, and physically abused when they resist being endlessly handled. When the cubs reach three to four months of age and are too big for public contact, they are typically warehoused at roadside zoos or pseudo sanctuaries, or sold as pets to make way for more infant cubs. This constant cycle of breeding and dumping big cats is why we have such a large surplus of captive big cats in the United States.

Conservationists have also long feared that tigers discarded from the cub petting industry may be feeding the illegal market for animal parts used in traditional Asian medicine.

The pandemic has provided yet another reason to ban cub petting. The coronavirus has been found in tigers, lions and snow leopards in captivity, leading the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue a rare advisory to big cat exhibitors to discontinue hands-on encounters with wild cats in the interests of public safety and animal welfare.

There is neither doubt nor debate among a majority of Americans that we need the Big Cat Public Safety Act to become law. This is commonsense legislation and it is long overdue. No one needs a pet tiger or lion in their backyard or garage, and no one needs to take a selfie with one, especially at such tremendous cost to the animals and at such risk to human and animal safety. Please join us in urging your U.S. Representative to cosponsor and push for the passage of this bill without delay.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Victory! Court upholds Obama-era protections for Alaska’s brown bears, disallows baiting

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

November 16, 2020 0 Comments

Victory! Court upholds Obama-era protections for Alaska’s brown bears, disallows baiting

Baiting brown bears– luring them with rotting piles of sugary foods and then killing them– is an extreme practice that biologists have raised alarms about. Photo by Erik Mandre/iStock.com33.8KSHARES

A federal court has ruled that brown bears in Alaska’s Kenai National Wildlife Refuge should continue to be protected from the cruel and biologically unsound hunting practice of baiting—luring these animals with piles of rotting foods like donuts and pastries and then killing them.

The Humane Society of the United States and our coalition partners, led by Trustees for Alaska, intervened in a lawsuit in 2017 to defend an Obama administration rule that, among other protections, banned the baiting of brown bears. We did so because the state of Alaska and trophy hunting groups, including Safari Club International, went to court soon after that rule was finalized in 2016 to try and overturn it.

On Friday, Judge Sharon L. Gleason of the federal court for the District of Alaska sided with us on maintaining protections for brown bears, ruling that state law does not control federal wildlife management on federal lands such as the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. The judge also discussed the extreme harm that baiting does to vulnerable brown bear populations, and ​held that it was reasonable for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be concerned that ​potentially habituating bears to human food ​could create dangerous bear-human interactions.

The ruling sends a clear signal to the Department of the Interior, which is now in the process of overturning that rule to allow bear baiting on Kenai, that this practice is not in the best interests of Alaska’s wildlife.

This is a huge victory—and a welcome one—but the work to protect Alaska’s wildlife is far from over. In addition to the proposed rule attempting to overturn protections for brown bears on Kenai, the administration has given trophy hunters the green light to kill Alaska’s bears, wolves and other wildlife using some of the cruelest hunting methods on 20 million acres of pristinely beautiful national preserves. We are now fighting that decision in court.

Baiting brown bears is an extreme practice—one that biologists have raised alarms about because of its ability to dangerously decimate bear populations and habituate bears to human food, and due to rotting baits’ toxicity to all animals in the environment.

Alaska’s brown bears and other wildlife already face multiple threats, including loss of habitat, climate change and heavy persecution under the Alaska Board of Game’s scientifically unsupported “intensive management” regulations. Allowing trophy hunters to mow them down with practices that are as cruel as they are unnecessary is not something Americans want or support. Even as we celebrate this court victory, we will continue our work full-steam to ensure that lawmakers fulfill their scientific, moral and legal responsibilities to conserve and responsibly manage wildlife on federal lands.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Banned: No more pangolin scales in traditional medicine, China declares

by Elizabeth Claire Alberts on 10 June 2020

  • The Chinese government has banned pangolin scales from use in traditional Chinese medicine, and elevated pangolins to be a level one protected species within China.
  • Conservationists say they believe this move will completely shut down the commercial trade of pangolin parts within China and slow the international trade of the species.
  • Pangolins are one of the most widely trafficked animals in the world, despite being protected under CITES Appendix I, which bans most international trade.

The Chinese government has officially removed pangolin scales from a list of approved ingredients in traditional medicine, a momentous move that could bring an end to the large-scale illegal trade in the scaly anteaters, conservationists say.

The eight species of pangolins are together one of the most widely trafficked animals in the world, with more than a million individuals traded since 2000, according to a CITES report. In 2019 alone, more than 97 tons of scales from more than 150,000 African pangolins were intercepted by authorities, according to data collected by the African Pangolin Working Group.

Pangolins are one of the most trafficked species in the world. Image by Paul Hilton for WildAid.

“That’s only the scales that are intercepted, which is only about 10% of the trade, so you can imagine how many pangolins are being traded on the African continent,” Ray Jansen, chairman of the African Pangolin Working Group and member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Pangolin Specialist Group, told Mongabay.

This trade has persisted despite pangolins being a protected species under CITES Appendix I, which prohibits all international trade except in extraordinary circumstances. However, CITES does not regulate the commercial trade of the species within a country, which is why the sale of pangolin parts has persisted in China.

The delisting of pangolins for use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which was reported on June 9 by media outlet China Health Times, follows the Chinese State Forestry and Grassland Administration’s (SFGA) announcement that pangolins are now a national level one protected species in China. That gives pangolins the same protection as a species listed under CITES Appendix I, says Steve Blake, the chief China representative for WildAid.

Pangolin scales seized in Cameroon. Image by Keith Cameron/USFWS via Wikicommons (CC BY 2.0)
Pangolin scales seized in Cameroon. Image by Keith Cameron / USFWS via Wikicommons (CC BY 2.0)

This news follows the Chinese government imposing a ban on the consumption of wildlife and moving to shut down existing wildlife farms in several Chinese provinces. Those actions, in turn, were precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, believed to have started at a wildlife market in Wuhan.

Blake said he welcomes the news of pangolins being delisted for TCM, which he said will lead to a termination of the legal trade of pangolin products in China.

“More details are yet to come on the products already on the market or how long legal sales will still be available, but it’s only a matter of time now,” he told Mongabay. “And when they are all illegal it sends a very clear signal to both the consumer and enforcement officers, leaving no room for confusion or laundering illegal products. It is a very significant step in curbing the pangolin trade. It’s a very similar situation to what happened in 1993 when tiger bone and rhino horn were removed, recognizing that the use of these products in the practice is not sustainable with such rapidly depleting populations, and that there are many viable alternatives available.”

A baby Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis). Image by Gregg Yan.

But it’s doubtful the trade will end overnight, Blake said, adding that more work is required to enforce these new rules.

“There needs to be a combination of clearer regulations, stronger enforcement, and stronger public awareness to effectively end these wildlife consumption issues,” he said. “All three of these are headed in the right direction, but just last year alone saw authorities around the world seize 130 tons of pangolin products. This is enormous. There needs to be even more initiatives to reduce demand and punish illegal sales to end this trade. But these two recent announcements from China will help with that tremendously.”

Pangolin scales are widely used in TCM based on the belief that they have special medicinal and spiritual qualities, despite only consisting of keratin, the same substance that makes up human hair and fingernails. The scales are ground up into a powder and sold in more than 60 different commercial products in China, according to Jansen, who works with the South African government to monitor the trade.

Pangolin. Image by Paul Hilton for WildAid.

“Banning pangolin scale powder out of Chinese pharmacopoeia means literally that there is and will be no more demand,” Jansen said.

He added he doesn’t believe the pangolin trade will “go underground” following the announcement.

“Once it’s banned, I think it’s going to be very, very difficult to make it commercially available in China because it [TCM] is almost like Western medicine and regulated,” he said. “So it’s a massive turning point in terms of the conservation of all eight species of pangolins.”

Banner image caption: A baby pangolin holding onto its mother. Image by Paul Hilton for WildAid.

Elizabeth Claire Alberts is a staff writer for Mongabay. Follow her on Twitter @ECAlberts.

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