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Pangolins in India: Endangered Guardians of Ecosystems.



  Sep 27, 2023

Pangolins in India



Q: What are pangolins?

A: Pangolins are small to medium-sized mammals known for their unique protective keratin scales. They are primarily nocturnal and are experts at digging.

Q: Are pangolins found in India?

A: Yes, India is home to two species of pangolins: the Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) and the Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla).

Q: Where can pangolins be found in India?

A: The Indian Pangolin is widely distributed across the country, including the hills of South and Northeast India. The Chinese Pangolin is mainly found in the Northeastern states.

Q: Are pangolins endangered?

A: Yes, both species found in India are listed as endangered. The Indian Pangolin is categorized as "Near Threatened" and the Chinese Pangolin is "Critically Endangered" according to the IUCN Red List.

Q: Why are pangolins endangered?

A: Major threats to pangolins include habitat loss and poaching. Their scales and meat are highly valued in traditional medicine and as a food delicacy, making them one of the most trafficked mammals in the world.

Q: What is being done to protect pangolins in India?

A: India has implemented various conservation programs and legal protections for pangolins. They are protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, making their hunting and trade illegal.

Q: How can one identify a pangolin?

A: Pangolins are easily identifiable by their overlapping scales. They have a long, sticky tongue used for consuming ants and termites, their primary food source.

Q: Do pangolins have any natural predators?

A: Pangolins have few natural predators thanks to their protective scales. However, they are vulnerable to humans, who hunt them for their scales and meat.

Maharashtra Pangolin Conservation Plan

State Involved: Maharashtra
Plan: A five-year conservation action plan dedicated to pangolins.
Significance: Maharashtra is the first state in India to introduce such a plan.

Plan Objectives

Study Aspects: Population estimation, distribution, habitat protection, and identification of illicit trafficking hotspots.

Current Status and Issues

Illegal Trade: Pangolin meat is consumed, scales are valuable in the international market, and some keep them for superstitions, fueling the illegal trade.
Local Involvement: Trained hunting dogs are used by local villagers to track and catch pangolins.

Global and Local Impact

COVID-19: Pangolins were identified as a potential intermediate host, but the trade has not reduced.
Inter-State Relations: Maharashtra’s PCCF received a request from Gujarat to address wildlife crimes after a case involving a live pangolin was busted.

Quick Facts About Pangolins

Role in Ecosystem: Insectivorous, feed on ants and termites, acting as biological pest control agents.
Physiological Traits: Covered in keratin scales weighing around 3.5 kg, have a long sticky tongue, and lack teeth.
Global Status: Listed under Appendix I of the International Convention of Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), prohibiting international commercial trade.


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