A benefit of Covid-19? Might it save the pangolin?

The pangolin is a creature that until a few years ago was known by next to no one in the world. Although found in a surprisingly large range of habitats they are often nocturnal and so in many parts of their habitats seen rarely. Many of the wildlife guides in the Kruger have never seen one and a sighting is something to be savoured. Indeed recently when when a doctoral student went out to study pangolins it took more than six months for them to see the first one.

Unfortunately though the Chinese have an unfounded belief the pangolin scales can in some way cure all sorts of random diseases – scientific analysis has shown it to be false but that has not stopped the poaching, and of the eight pangolin species a number are now close to extinction – knowledge of these animals is scant as they are seen so rarely in the wild.

However there is a significant amount of evidence that Covid-19 jumps from animals to humans in the wild markets at Wuhan. More specifically it is thought that Covid-19 made the leap from pangolins into humans. China does not seem that they’ve been remotely interested in cracking down on the poaching that has decimated so many species is over the last 20 years, however it seems likely that now it is a health matter things will change rapidly. If pangolin scales are no longer valued at such absurdly high prices, they will no longer be worth the risks that people undertake the try to poach them.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful that with all the death and destruction that Covid-19 has wrought on the human population, that this horrific illness might force humans to stop massacring pangolins and lead to the recovery of the eight different species in the wild where they belong?

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