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Good news: Sunda pangolin now a totally protected species!

Published on 16 February 2018|
2 min read

Rejoice animal lovers–we are now one step closer to make Earth a better place for Sunda pangolin!

Recently, Sabah’s Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun announced that Sunda pangolin is receiving the highest protection that it could get. That’s right, folks! We are making great strides in ensuring the Sunda pangolin’s survival in Sabah!

Now, Sabah is giving Sunda pandolin a “Totally Protected” status. That means Sunda pangolin traffickers in Sabah will get significantly heavier punishments for hunting the animal.

“The document to upgrade the protection status of pangolins has been approved by the Sabah State Cabinet,” he said in an event at the Sandakan Airport recently. The event was held in conjunction with the World Pangolin Day in 17th February this year. The World Pangolin Day celebration occurs every third Saturday in February each year.

On the brink of extinction

Sunda pangolin is a species of pangolin indigenous to Southeast Asia. Currently, it is in the “Critically Endangered” category of IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In other words, there’s a very high risk of the species’ extinction if there is no effort in its protection.

Previously, Sunda pangolins had the “Protected” status in Sabah. This means hunters can still hunt for the species if they have the permit for it. Now, hunters can be penalised with fine up to RM250,000 (USD60,000), or prison time of up to five years, or both if they have a Sunda pangolin in their possession. This is certainly a great move since Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak has considered the pangolins as a Totally Protected species since 1972 and 1998 respectively.

Conservation efforts of the species can be quite an arduous task. It is very difficult to keep pangolins in captivity because they are extremely susceptible to stress. In fact, most of them will die within six months of captivity.

Illegal, yet lucrative business

There are eight species of pangolins in the world and they are the most trafficked animal in the world. As a matter of fact, there are more than one million poached pangolins in just the last ten years.

Credit: Vassil

“The demand for pangolins comes mostly from China, where pangolin scales are unfortunately believed to be a cure and meat is considered a delicacy,” Masidi said. However, there is still no scientific evidence that supports the claims that pangolins have any medicinal values.

Pangolins are vary valuable in the black market. The scales are valued at USD3,000 per kilogramme, the meat is USD300 per kilogramme and live pangolin can cost you USD1,000 each. However, the demand for pangolins does not stop at that–the innards and fetuses of pangolins are also very popular for its supposed medicinal properties.

A brighter future for Sunda pangolin

The move of upgrading pangolin’s status is certainly a step into the right direction, especially at times where people hunt pangolins into the brink of extinction.

In fact, Sabah’s Custom Department had seized around eight tonnes of pangolin scales in July last year. The scales, believed to come from 16,000 pangolins, were heading for China from Sepanggar Bay. So far, the seizure is the biggest in Sabah’s history. Officials were able to seize another five tonnes of pangolin scales and three tonnes of elephant tusks in Kota Kinabalu just a month later.

Therefore, efforts such as this is vital in the survival of the pangolins. After all, who would want such cute creatures to disappear from earth, right?

What else do you think we can do more to protect endangered species in Sabah? Share with us in the comments below.


Last December, Malaysia’s last female Sumatran rhino is in a dire situation. However, the latest reports said that her situation is improving!

Featured Image Credit: Keith Connelly

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