Happy Ending for Smuggled Pangolins
16 rare scaly anteaters are back in the wild after being rescued from Vietnam’s illegal wildlife trade.
Pangolins are scaly anteaters about the size of a house cat. They’re presumed to be the world’s most trafficked mammal, with an estimated 100,000 plucked from the wild every year in Africa and Asia—that’s one pangolin captured every five minutes.
In China and elsewhere in Asia their meat is considered a delicacy, and their scales are cooked or pulverized to treat ills from malaria and boils to excessive nervousness—although there’s no proof of their effectiveness. (Pangolin scales are made up of keratin, the same protein in our hair and fingernails.)
Vietnam hits the trifecta in the illegal pangolin trade. It’s a source country, transit region, and destination all in one. Since 2011 authorities have confiscated roughly 1,450 live or whole pangolins and