pangolin takes a swim mark hiley

Pangolins removed from Traditional Chinese Medicine

In positive conservation news, China have taken pangolin scales off the list of approved products for Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

Pangolins are the most-trafficked mammal on earth, with an estimated 100,000 being trafficked from Africa to Asia every year, posing a grave threat to pangolin populations in the wild, and increasing the risk of zoonotic spill-over into humans. 

There are eight species of pangolin, four in Asia and four in Africa, all of which are threatened by over-exploitation for food, and principally for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Although this news must be applauded, there are possible loopholes that might render this decision largely meaningless in conservation terms. One significant loophole, which has precedent, is if pangolin scales are still allowed to be used as a non-key ingredient in already-approved patent medicines, as is the case for bear bile and leopard bones. If loopholes such as this are not closed, the trafficking of pangolins is likely to continue at an unsustainable rate.

The other main reason to urge caution is that regulations are only effective if they are enforced. It is the responsibility of the Chinese government to apply these new laws to make sure the users of TCM comply.

Despite these caveats, this is undeniably a positive move for pangolin conservation.

For more information about pangolins and pangolin conservation please visit:

For more information about the new laws and the potential loopholes please visit:


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