The first environmental public interest litigation on pangolins was approved on Jan 11, 2019. The plaintiff, China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF), claimed that due to the dereliction of the Guangxi Terrestrial Wildlife Rescue and Epidemic Disease Detection Center the received seized pangolins all perished after two months arriving at the center in August 2017. The center’s direct superior unit, the Forestry Department of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, is listed as the third party in the lawsuit, filed to the Nanning Intermediate People’s Court of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on September 14 last year.
The rescue center received 34 pangolins after the seizure of suspected illegal transportation by the Marine Police of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Knowing that most bureaus lack the experience in handling wild animals, staff from CBCGDF immediately responded when seeing the news report, gathering a team of experts and traveling to Guznxi to offer assistance. However, their offer was rejected and the pangolins all died. The CBCGDF repeatedly asked the Forestry Department of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to disclose information and explain the death of these pangolins but only found unclear answers or lies, said Sophia at the CBCGDF.
Although there is much awareness of pangolins going extinct, proper measures have not been in place. While pangolins are still seen as a delicacy and traditional medicine, the demand of their meat and scales continues driving the supply. It is legal to farm raise pangolins in China, however, there has been a lot of evidence indicating that these “farms” smuggle more than they rear, if they rear at all. It is extremely difficult to raise pangolins due to their unique eating habits, living standards, and long pregnancy cycle. The rescue center is therefore suspicious as it has been sending pangolins to these farms in the name of breeding.
The CBCGDF has been doing a number of things hoping to improve the condition of pangolins from involving volunteers nationwide in investigating the issue, providing incentives for releasing pangolins, and developing a tracking device for better tracking the pangolins after being released.