Why are Pangolins so prized in china

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Pangolins are prized in China for their scales, which are believed to have medicinal properties in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) 

In a 2015 survey, 70% of Chinese respondents believed that consuming pangolin could cure rheumatism and skin diseases and heal wounds

Pangolin meat is also viewed as a luxury item by some Chinese consumers. Despite laws preventing their trade, pangolins have been hunted to the point of extinction

The Chinese government has promised to crack down on the trade of pangolin products, but a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals that online sales platforms and major pharmaceutical companies continue to advertise pangolin products

The Chinese pangolin is critically endangered, and all four Asian species of pangolin are endangered or critically endangered.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Pangolins

Pangolins have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for centuries.

The scales of pangolins are believed to have medicinal properties in TCM, and are commonly used to promote lactation in women and reduce swelling and pain

Pangolin scales are also believed to have anti-inflammatory and antitumor properties. The cultural reasons behind the use of pangolins in TCM are rooted in the belief that consuming animal products can improve health and cure diseases

Despite the fact that pangolins have been removed from the official list of approved ingredients in TCM by the Chinese government, a recent report reveals that medicines containing pangolin scales are still being produced and sold throughout China

The report found that 56 companies are actively producing and selling 64 medicines containing pangolin scales, and that an additional 165 companies and 713 hospitals have the authority to produce such medicines

The use of pangolin scales in TCM has contributed to the decline of pangolin populations, and the Chinese government has promised to crack down on the trade of pangolin products.

Cultural Significance

Pangolins hold a special place in Chinese culture due to their significance in folklore, art, and symbolism.

Here are some cultural aspects of pangolins in China:

  • In Chinese folklore, pangolins are associated with the earth element and are believed to have the power to ward off evil spirits and disasters.
  • Pangolins have been depicted in Chinese art for centuries, often as a symbol of good luck and prosperity.
  • In Chinese symbolism, pangolins represent diligence, patience, and determination.
  • Pangolin scales have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for centuries, and are believed to have medicinal properties. The use of pangolin scales in TCM has contributed to the decline of pangolin populations.
  • Despite the fact that pangolins have been removed from the official list of approved ingredients in TCM by the Chinese government, a recent report reveals that medicines containing pangolin scales are still being produced and sold throughout China.
  • The Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) was once prevalent in most parts of southern China, and was classified as “critically endangered” in 2014 due to habitat loss and poaching.

Overall, pangolins have played an important role in Chinese culture for centuries, but their cultural significance has contributed to their decline in recent years.

Pangolin as a Status Symbol

Owning or consuming pangolin products is seen as a status symbol in Chinese society due to their rarity and high cost

Pangolin meat is considered a luxury item and a symbol of wealth and status among those who can afford it

Pangolin scales are also believed to have medicinal properties in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and are viewed as a valuable ingredient

The perception that pangolin products are rare and valuable has contributed to the high demand for them in China, despite laws preventing their trade

This demand has led to the decline of pangolin populations, with all four Asian species of pangolin being endangered or critically endangered

Conservation efforts have been hindered by the perception of pangolins as a status symbol, as well as the belief in their medicinal properties

However, there have been recent efforts by the Chinese government to strengthen protection for Chinese pangolins, which could help to reduce demand and increase conservation efforts.

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Pangolin in Chinese Cuisine

Pangolins have been consumed in Chinese cuisine for centuries, and are considered a luxury item by some Chinese consumers

Here are some cultural traditions associated with eating pangolin meat:

  • Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy in some parts of China, and is often served at banquets and other special occasions.
  • Pangolin meat is typically prepared by boiling, roasting, or stir-frying, and is often served with vegetables and spices.
  • In some regions of China, pangolin meat is believed to have medicinal properties, and is used to treat a variety of ailments.
  • Despite the fact that pangolins have been removed from the official list of approved ingredients in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) by the Chinese government, a recent report reveals that medicines containing pangolin scales are still being produced and sold throughout China.
  • The consumption of pangolin meat and the use of pangolin scales in TCM have contributed to the decline of pangolin populations, with all four Asian species of pangolin being endangered or critically endangered.

Pangolins have played a significant role in Chinese cuisine for centuries, but their cultural significance has contributed to their decline in recent years.

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Demand and Market Factors

The demand for pangolins in China is driven by several market dynamics, including cultural traditions, economic prosperity, and changing consumer preferences.

Here are some factors that affect the demand for pangolins in China:

  • Cultural traditions: Pangolins have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for centuries, and are believed to have medicinal properties. Pangolin meat is also considered a delicacy in some parts of China, and is often served at banquets and other special occasions. The cultural significance of pangolins has contributed to their demand in China, despite laws preventing their trade.
  • Economic prosperity: As China’s economy has grown, so has the demand for luxury items, including pangolin meat and scales. The perception that pangolin products are rare and valuable has contributed to their high cost and demand in China.
  • Changing consumer preferences: The rise of social media and e-commerce platforms has made it easier for consumers to access pangolin products, and has contributed to the growth of the online market for pangolin-derived products. The convenience of online shopping and the ability to purchase pangolin products anonymously has made it more difficult to regulate the trade of pangolins in China.

Overall, the demand for pangolins in China is driven by a complex set of market dynamics, including cultural traditions, economic prosperity, and changing consumer preferences.

Understanding these factors is crucial for developing effective strategies to reduce the demand for pangolins and protect their populations from further decline.

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Conservation and Legal Framework

The legal status of pangolins in China is governed by the Wildlife Protection Law, which bans the sale, purchase, and use of Class II and Class I protected species, except for scientific research, captive breeding, exhibition, heritage conservation, or other special purposes.

Pangolins are classified as Class I protected species in China, which means they have the same legal protections as the giant panda, with tough punishments for poaching and most types of trading

Despite these protections, pangolins continue to be hunted and traded illegally in China, with at least 192 incidents of pangolin scale smuggling linked to mainland China between 2010-2021.

Conservation efforts to protect pangolins in China include upgrading the national protection status of native pangolin species, in particular the Chinese pangolin, and enhancing trans-boundary law enforcement collaboration

However, the use of pangolin scales in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is still permitted in China from officially approved government stockpiles, and medicines containing pangolin scales are still being produced and sold throughout China

The enforcement of regulations and the effectiveness of conservation efforts are hindered by the continued demand for pangolin products, as well as the difficulty of regulating the online market for pangolin-derived products.

In summary, while China has strengthened legal protections for pangolins in recent years, the continued demand for pangolin products and the difficulty of regulating the trade of pangolins in China have made conservation efforts challenging.

Efforts to reduce demand and increase public awareness of the importance of pangolin conservation will be crucial for protecting pangolin populations in China.

International Trade and Influence

China is the primary destination for the vast quantities of pangolin scales trafficked internationally every year from across Asia and Africa

The demand for pangolins in China has a significant impact on pangolin populations in other countries, as China is the largest market for pangolin products in the world

Here are some ways that China’s demand for pangolins impacts pangolin populations in other countries:

  • Poaching: The high demand for pangolin products in China has led to increased poaching of pangolins in other countries, particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia. This has contributed to the decline of pangolin populations in these regions, with all four Asian species of pangolin being endangered or critically endangered.
  • Illegal trade: The illegal trade of pangolins is driven by the demand for pangolin products in China, with pangolin scales and meat being smuggled across borders to meet this demand. This illegal trade has contributed to the decline of pangolin populations in other countries, and has made it difficult to regulate the trade of pangolins internationally.
  • Conservation efforts: Efforts to protect pangolins in other countries are hindered by the demand for pangolin products in China, as well as the difficulty of regulating the trade of pangolins internationally. International efforts to address the illegal trade of pangolins include the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which bans the international pangolin trade, and the United States’ Lacey Act, which prohibits the import of illegally harvested wildlife.

In conclusion, China’s demand for pangolins has a significant impact on pangolin populations in other countries, contributing to the decline of pangolin populations and making conservation efforts challenging.

Addressing the demand for pangolin products in China will be crucial for protecting pangolin populations globally.

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