GUWAHATI, Dec 3 - At a time when rhino poaching in the State is a raging issue, an alarming video footage captured by World Animal Protection (WAP) and WildCRU (Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford) reveals how pangolins are brutally killed in Assam for their body parts to be sold in the black market.
An international non-profit animal welfare organisation, World Animal Protection said in a communication received here today that the footage was captured by an undercover researcher on his mobile phone. It shows a terrified pangolin hiding in a hollowed-out tree to save it from the hunters. The hunters used axes to cut the tree, but still unable to get the poor animal out of its hideout, they lit a fire to smoke the animal out of its hiding place.
When the suffocated animal tries to run for its life, it was captured, bagged and taken to a hut and repeatedly hit with a machete until it became impossible for the animal to move. The bleeding animal was then thrown into a cauldron of boiling water, conceivably alive. Thus, the tragic end comes to the poor animal.
The animal protection group said, �pangolins are often referred to as the world�s most trafficked mammal and this footage demonstrates the cruelty the animals endure when hunted. The harrowing clip is part of a two-year study by researchers from World Animal Protection and the University of Oxford, into traditional hunting practices in Assam.
�Interviews conducted by researchers with over 140 local hunters found that pangolins were largely targeted for their scales that are sold for a premium price, with hunters earning a handsome amount for a single pangolin. The hunters from different communities were clearly unaware of the part they are playing in the international trafficking. Yet, the illegal traders that then sell the animal products across the borders in the black market go on to make a large profit,� the group said.
Pangolin scales are used in traditional Asian medicine, particularly in China and Vietnam. Pangolin scales are made of keratin, the same material that makes human fingernails and hair, and they have no proven medicinal value. Pangolin meat is also considered to be a delicacy in some countries, and the scales are also used as decorations for rituals and jewellery. Pangolins are considered to be at high risk of extinction, primarily as a result of illegal poaching.
India Country Director of the World Animal Protection Gajender K Sarma said, �The two species of pangolins � Manis crassicaudata and Manis pentadacytla � found in India, have the highest protection with both being listed on Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. We urge the Central and respective state governments to take strict measures to put an end to poaching of pangolins.�
Professor David Macdonald, WildCRU, Department of Zoology, Oxford University, said, �Increasing demand driven by traditional Asian medicine is making pangolins a lucrative catch. It�s easy to see why they are being commercially exploited, as scales from just one pangolin can offer a life changing sum of money for people in these communities, but it�s in no way sustainable. Wild pangolin numbers are beginning to plummet.�