Beijing authorities have removed pangolin scales from Chinese Pharmacopoeia - meaning the animals are no longer approved for use in traditional medicine, according to reports.
The move has been welcomed by advocacy groups who believe it will help reduce the trade in pangolins but who would like to see the guidelines go further and remove all wild animals from the list.
Eating pangolin scales is believed by some to improve sexual performance, increase blood circulation, and treat inflammation, and the meat is seen as a delicacy. This contributes to the animals being the world's most trafficked mammal.
The dropping of pangolins from the Pharmacopoeia follows China’s National People’s Congress banning the consumption of wild animals earlier this year.
Some provinces are offering wild animal farmers money in exchange for their livestock. While animal advocates have welcomed the ban, they have voiced concerns about what will happen to livestock currently in the system, and also that China may try to circumvent these rules by changing the classification of certain animals from wild to livestock.
The removal of pangolins from the Pharmacopoeia also follows the country upgrading pangolins to a national level 1 protected species. This means those convicted of hunting and killing the animals would face up to a decade in prison. However, the hunting, trading and using of the animals for the purpose of scientific research, breeding, display and other 'special situations' is still allowed - which some advocates have voiced concern over.
'The next vital step'
"The Chinese pangolin is critically endangered and the other seven species are threatened by extinction, so it is great news that China has upgraded them to the highest level of protection and removed them from Chinese Pharmacopoeia, which means they will no longer be permitted for use in traditional Chinese medicine," Katheryn Wise, wildlife campaign manager at World Animal Protection, said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
"The next vital step is to see this extended to all wild animals. Who, like pangolins, are poached from the wild and often placed in squalid, cramped cages, creating a lethal hotbed of disease, as well as causing enormous suffering and cruelty.
"A permanent ban on the global wildlife trade is the only long-term way to keep wild animals wild, eliminate animal suffering, and importantly, help prevent major health epidemics."