70 ​living pangolins confiscated ​in a smuggling case. (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – All eight species of pangolins are on the brink of extinction, and two out of the four species in Asia are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s red list of endangered species, according to the IUCN.

The population of all four species in Asia, which reside in 17 different countries, fell from 50 to 90 percent in three recent generations or 21 years. Four species in 31 African countries are on the IUCN red list of threatened species and have declined from 30 to 40 percent in the past three decades.

In the past decade, an estimated 1 million wild pangolins have been killed for their meat and scales.

The rampant smuggling of pangolins, fueled by the demand for their high-quality meat and scales used for traditional medicine in Asia, is cited as the main reason behind their dwindling population.

In Vietnam there are two species of pangolins: java Manis javanica and Manis pentadactyla.

According to the Vietnam Redbook published in 2007, pangolins mainly live in the central region, from Nghe An to Lam Dong, and in some northwestern mountainous provinces.

In recent years, Vietnam’s authorities have discovered many big pangolin smuggling operations in Hai Phong, Ha Tinh and Nghe An.

Pangolins are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)’s Appendix 2 and two species in Vietnam are on the list of endangered species. Sanctions to punish the hunting and smuggling of pangolins in Vietnam are not severe enough. Most are limited and overlap.

At a recent meeting in Da Nang, countries agreed on a recommendation to move pangolins from the CITES’ appendix 2 to appendix 1 to protect them more effectively.

The participants also proposed measures to sustainably conserve, manage and enforce laws to protect pangolins, including international cooperation and information-sharing. -VNA