All eight species of pangolin are threatened, with three listed as critically endangered, The scales were incinerated publicly in Abuja, Nigeria's capital

Nigeria burns $1.4m-worth of pangolin scales in anti-trafficking stand

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Nigeria has burned $1.4m (£1.2m) worth of pangolin scales in a stand against trafficking, officials said.

It is the first time the nation has publicly destroyed seized wildlife products for this reason.

The pangolin is one of the world’s most trafficked mammals – their scales are in high demand in traditional Chinese medicine.

Nigeria is a major transit hub for African pangolin scales and other wildlife products trafficked to Asia.

“These seized items represent the past we leave behind, but the destruction signifies the future we are determined to build for our planet,” Environment Minister Iziaq Adekunle said before the burning took place in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

“The destruction of these seized items is a powerful statement of our resolve to protect our environment, conserve our wildlife, and combat the illegal trade that drives species to the brink of extinction.”

Almost four tonnes of pangolin scales were destroyed alongside seized leopard, python and crocodile skins.

The agency had confiscated the scales in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and a pan-African alliance named the Elephant Protection Initiative.

Nigeria burns $1.4m-worth of pangolin scales
The destruction took place in front of NGOs and government officials

In August, the leaders of a global wildlife trafficking gang were convicted for smuggling pangolin scales after a four-year investigation and a trial in Nigeria.

And last year, Nigerian customs officials seized 1,613 tonnes of pangolin scales and arrested 14 people, Nigeria’s Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency said.

Pangolins are the only mammals in the world to be covered in scales, which are made from keratin, the same substance found in human fingernails.

Four species live in Africa, across countries in the the south, east and centre of the continent. The creature is near extinct in Nigeria, so pangolins smuggled from there are likely to be from other countries, UNODC said.

Asia is home to the other four species, although they have been totally wiped out in the continent’s vast south-east region.

According to animal charity Wild Aid, up to 200,000 pangolins are thought to be taken from the wild every year. It is not known how many are left globally – the animals are notoriously difficult to monitor because they are shy and nocturnal.

Populations of the critically endangered pangolin have declined by up to 80% in some parts of Africa in recent years, the AFP news agency reports.

According to UNODC, seizures of pangolin scales increased tenfold between 2014 and 2018.

Source: BBC

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