The Biggest Mammal Victim of the Wildlife Trade is the Adorable, Endangered Pangolin

By Derek Mead

The plight of tigers, elephants, and rhinoceroses have all received a lot of attention in the press in recent years, as all have become increasingly threatened by the world wildlife trade. But the trade, which is worth something around $20 billion a year, involves far more species than just that trio. Strange birds, rare reptiles, exotic fish, and everything in between are all illegally harvested and traded worldwide. In fact, the most commonly trafficked mammal isn't a tiger or rhino, but the pangolin, as discussed in a great, deep article by Monga Bay.

Take the time to go read the piece, especially considering it's the second annual World Pangolin Day this Saturday. Pangolins are absolutely fascinating creatures: scaled insectivores that are distantly related to carnivores despite lacking teeth. They're the only mammals known on Earth with scales and are distinct enough from a phylogenetic standpoint that they make up their own order, Pholidota.

Pangolins are hunted both for traditional medicine and meat, which has led the IUCN to consider all eight species to be in decline, including the endangered Sunda and Chinese pangolins. Their scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine to promote blood flow (especially with regards to menstruation and lactation), reducing swelling, and as an arthritis treatment.

Read the rest over at the new Motherboard.VICE.com.

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