The world’s most smug­gled an­i­mals

The Week - Junior - - Front Page -

Pan­golins are one of the most un­usual an­i­mals in the world, be­cause they are the only mam­mals that have scales. How­ever, de­mand in Asia has led to a big trade in the an­i­mals, even though it has been il­le­gal to buy or sell pan­golins since Jan­uary 2017. In fact, a new re­port from an­i­mal char­ity, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has re­vealed that, de­spite the ban, pan­golins are still the most traf­ficked an­i­mals in the world.

An­i­mal traf­fick­ing is when wild an­i­mals are il­le­gally cap­tured or killed for their body parts – such as horns or scales – and smug­gled across the world to be sold, of­ten at very high prices.

WWF re­leased the re­port af­ter an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the en­dan­gered species that are il­le­gally traded within the Golden Tri­an­gle. This is the name of an area in south-east Asia where it is known that some of the world’s rarest an­i­mals are bought and sold. The tri­an­gle in­cludes parts of China, Laos, Myan­mar and Thai­land, and an­i­mals are of­ten smug­gled across bor­ders. “The mar­kets of the Golden Tri­an­gle are a shock­ing and sober­ing sight, dis­play­ing thou­sands of body parts of some of the world’s most iconic and en­dan­gered an­i­mals,” ex­plained Chris­gel Cruz, from WWF. This il­le­gal trade is caus­ing the pop­u­la­tions of hun­dreds of species across the world to plum­met.

Un­for­tu­nately for pan­golins, their meat is con­sid­ered an ed­i­ble del­i­cacy in coun­tries such as China and Viet­nam, and its scales are be­lieved to have medic­i­nal prop­er­ties (even though there is no sci­en­tific ev­i­dence to sup­port this). WWF is call­ing on law en­forcers and the gov­ern­ments in con­trol of the bor­ders within the Golden Tri­an­gle to do more to stop this il­le­gal trade and help pro­tect these al­ready en­dan­gered crea­tures.

The pan­golin is

un­der threat.

The golden tri­an­gle.

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