“Madhya Pradesh radio-tags first-ever Indian Pangolin”

  • Category
    Society
  • Published
    20th Feb, 2020

In order to know the species’ ecology and develop an effective conservation plan, the Madhya Pradesh forest department has radio-tagged an Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) for the first time.

Context

In order to know the species’ ecology and develop an effective conservation plan, the Madhya Pradesh forest department has radio-tagged an Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) for the first time.

About

About Pangolins:

  • Pangolins are uniquely covered in tough, overlapping scales. These mammals eat ants and termites using an extraordinarily long, sticky tongue, and are able to quickly roll themselves up into a tight ball when they feel threatened.
  • Commonly known as ‘scaly anteaters’, the toothless animals are unique, a result of millions of years of evolution.
  • Pangolins evolved scales as a means of protection. When threatened by big carnivores like lions or tigers they usually curl into a ball.
  • Species: There are eight species of pangolins:
    • Asia: Four are found is Asia and they're listed by the IUCN as critically endangered.:
      • Chinese
      • Sunda
      • Indian
      • Philippine
    • Africa: The four African species and they are listed as vulnerable:
      • the ground pangolin
      • giant pangolin
      • white-bellied
      • black-bellied

Pangolin habitat map in India:

  • India is home to two species of pangolin. While the Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) is found in northeastern India, the Indian Pangolin is distributed in other parts of the countrys as well as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
  • Both these species are protected and are listed under the Schedule I Part I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
  • However, despite protective measures, pangolins in India are widely exploited and traded both domestically and internationally.

Rapid decline in population:

  • When threatened by big carnivores like lions or tigers they usually curl into a ball. The scales defend them against dental attacks from the predators.
  • However, this unique protection mechanism has now become the main cause of the pangolin’s disappearance. The scales are in high demand in China, where they are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Pangolins are currently the most trafficked wildlife species in the world. Pangolin meat is also in high demand in China and southeast Asia.
  • Consequently, pangolins have seen a rapid reduction in population globally. The projected population declines range from 50 per cent to 80 per cent across the genus.
  • All species face declining populationsbecause of illegal trade. In 2016, the 186 countries party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the treaty that regulates the international wildlife trade, voted to ban the commercial trade in pangolins.

The plan:

  • The radio-tagging is part of a joint project by the department and non-profit, the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) that also involves the species’ monitoring apart from other activities.
  • The measure comes as the world gets ready to observe the ninth ‘World Pangolin Day’ on February 15, 2020.

World Pangolin Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in February, and this year, the special day falls on February 15, 2020. The day is an opportunity for pangolin enthusiasts to join together in raising awareness about these unique mammals — and their plight.

  • It is an international attempt to raise awareness about pangolins and bring together various stakeholders to help protect them from extinction.

This new initiative of radio tagging will hopefully ensure better survival rates of Pangolins in the wild and for sure, it will have a positive impact on the population of this endangered species.

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