They are strange-looking creatures, covered with hard scales (鳞). They can roll up into a ball to protect themselves from enemies and have tongues (舌头) that are longer than their bodies. They rarely get the attention of people, and some even don’t know they exist. However, pangolins (穿山甲) have recently become the focus of Chinese people, after social media posts of the strange animal being eaten at dinner caused public anger.
Earlier this month, a screenshot (截屏) of a micro blog post showing some people in Guangxi eating pangolins at a banquet spread. A few days later, people were angered again by pictures posted on a woman’s weibo account showing her eating protected animals, including pangolins.
Yet this is only the tip of the iceberg. Many more pangolins have been hunted or killed. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), more than 1 million of them have been killed or sold in the last 10 years. It also said that they are the most illegally traded mammals (哺乳动物) in the world. In September, the IUCN added the pangolin to the world’s “endangered animals list”. They are now more endangered than pandas.
但这只是冰山一角。还有更多的穿山甲被猎杀。据世界自然保护联盟 (IUCN) 的数据显示，在过去的十年间，超过100万的穿山甲被杀害贩卖。该组织还表示，穿山甲是世界上遭受非法贸易最严重的哺乳动物。去年9月，世界自然保护联盟将穿山甲列入世界“濒危物种名录”。现在，它们的濒危程度已经超过了大熊猫。
A growing trade of their scales and meat is the main reason for their decline in numbers. Many people in Asia and Africa consider pangolin meat is a delicacy (美味). Some people even think pangolin scales have medicinal qualities. However, their scales are made of keratin (角蛋白), the same material human fingernails are made of.
Luckily, the situation is getting better. World Pangolin Day is on the third Saturday of February each year. This year, it fell on Feb 18. It’s a day to help people know more about pangolins. The government now stops anyone from buying and eating pangolins in China. Breaking this law is regarded as a crime (罪行). The trade of pangolins across the world is also not allowed, according to the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
“I hope more people will join us to protect pangolins from such a sad situation,” Zhou Canying, head of the Wildlife Protection Association in Changsha, told Xinhua News Agency.