Odisha police launch drive to bust Pangolin smuggling racket
Odisha Special Task Force (STF) has launched drive to bust an international syndicate that peddles ‘endangered’ pangolin, one of the world’s most illegally traded mammals. It has requested Union Home Ministry to approach the Myanmar government to block the transit route for smuggled pangolin under Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). MLAT is an agreement between nations to exchange information or provide legal assistance for enforcing laws.
Pangolin is only scaly mammal on the planet. According to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), it is also the most illegally traded vertebrate within its class (Mammalia). Of the eight species of pangolin worldwide, two are found in India. They are Chinese pangolin (manis pentadactyla), mostly found in northeast India and Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata).
Pangolins has large, overlapping scales on its body which act as armour. It can also curl itself into ball as self-defence against predators. The colour of its scales varies depending on colour of earth in its surroundings. Pangolins is an insectivore, feeding on ants and termites, digging them out of mounds and logs using its long claws. It is nocturnal and rests in deep burrows during the day.
Pangolins is smuggled for its scales as it believed that they possess magic or charms and have medicinal properties. The scales serves as base component for indigenous (traditional) psychotropic substances. China is main illicit hub (market) for smuggled scales of Pangolins, where they have huge demand for medicinal and magical purposes.
Protection Status: Chinese pangolin has been listed as “critically endangered” by UN affiliated International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) has been listed as “endangered” in IUCN Red List. It is also a Schedule I category protected animal, under the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).