|Slaughtered for their scales
The world’s most trafficked mammal is in danger of vanishing before most people ever have the chance to learn about it. The pangolin is a scaly mammal targeted for its meat as well as its scales — which are falsely believed to have healing properties. These same scales are intended to protect the animal against hungry predators, but they are no match against poachers who kill up to 2.7 million pangolins each year. Despite increased protections, pangolins are still trafficked by the tonne. This year has the dubious distinction of being record-breaking for pangolin seizures. In February, Malaysian authorities busted a pangolin-smuggling ring and intercepted nearly 30 metric tonnes of pangolin scales as well as frozen and live pangolins. Many more record busts followed, drawing renewed attention to the plight of the pangolin. As long as the demand for their scales grows, trade restrictions alone will not save them from extinction.