The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) in Guwahati and the Chariduwar forest range of Sonitpur West Division collaborated in a joint operation and rescued two Chinese pangolins weighing 9.5 kg and 2.9 kg at Potasali on the Balipara-Bhalukpong Road in Sonitpur district, central Assam.
Moreover, two people have been detained in connection with the rescue of the pangolins close to the Arunachal Pradesh border.
Meanwhile, Karlin Mangfi, of Mangfi village in the Chayang police station in Arunachal Pradesh, and Gyan Bahadur Chetry, of Gormora village in the Chariduar police station in Sonitpur district, have been held in connection with the pangolin rescue near the Arunachal Pradesh border.
“The duo had brought the pangolins from the Sepa area of Arunachal Pradesh. They often hunt pangolins for their meat. A case (bearing number CH-01 of 2022-23, dated April 9, 2022, has been registered under Sections 9, 39, 44, 48A, 49B, 50, 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972,” a WCCB official informed.
However, the operation, led by WCCB’s Hiten Borah, was based on intelligence inputs.
Further, the Chinese pangolins are included in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has designated it as a “Vulnerable to Critically Endangered” species.
Moreover, over the last few months, the WCCB in Guwahati has stepped up operations against alleged wildlife smugglers across the region, particularly along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border.
Furthermore, several leopard parts were seized by teams from the WCCB and the Assam forest department’s Nameri range office during an operation on the Chariduar-Bhalukpong Road in the Sonitpur district a few weeks ago.
Earlier, in February, teams from WCCB Guwahati, police (from both Assam and Arunachal Pradesh), and the forest department retrieved many animal pieces from an oil depot near Banderdewa on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border, including the skin and skull of a Royal Bengal Tiger.
Chinese Pangolins are the world’s most traded mammals, with the Chinese pangolin being the most endangered.
The species is heavily hunted for its meat, which is considered a delicacy, as well as its skin and scales, which are utilised in traditional medicine in China and neighbouring range states.
Chinese Pangolins are thought to roam all over the earth underground in Chinese tradition, and their name in Cantonese translates to “the animal that digs through the mountain,” or “Chun-shua-cap,” which means “scaly hill-borer.”
Despite their resemblance to other mammals designed to consume ants and termites, Chinese Pangolins are not closely related to any of these groups, with only eight species of pangolin remaining in their family Manidae, and even their order, Pholidota.
The variable diploid number of chromosomes seen in animals from different parts of their range makes Chinese Pangolins genetically interesting.
The Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) is a species of pangolin found in northern India, northern Southeast Asia, and southern China.
The IUCN Red List has classed it as Critically Endangered since 2014 since the natural population is believed to have dropped by more than 80% in three pangolin generations, or 21 years. Poaching for the illegal wildlife trade threatens it.
Moreover, the entire armour of scales on these solitary, primarily nocturnal animals makes them highly identifiable. When a pangolin is frightened, its front legs cover its head, exposing its scales to any possible predator.
Further, it will curl up fully into a ball if handled or seized, and the spiky scales on the tail can be utilised to lash out.
Pangolins, often known as scaly anteaters because of their favoured diet, are the world’s most trafficked mammals, with demand for their meat and scales predominantly in Asia and expanding in Africa.
Pangolin items are also in demand in the United States, notably its leather, which is used in boots, bags, and belts.
Meanwhile, Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata), Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis), Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica), and Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) are the four species found in Asia.