Discussion on Malayan Pangolins 5 | “Domestic Pangolin Specimens are Bought and Cannot Prove that Malayan Pangolins is Native Species”?
2019/6/24 15:20:00 本站

When some provincial forestry authorities in southern China refused to release healthy Malayan Pangolin that had been confiscated by customs, one of the most frequently cited reasons was that the Malayan Pangolin was an exotic species and should not be released into the wild. But are Malay pangolins really alien species?


At the end of March this year, the CBCGDF sent volunteers to Kunming Institute of Zoology of CAS (Chinese Academy of Sciences) to find out about the Malayan Pangolin. With the help of the staff of Kunming Institute of Zoology of CAS, the volunteers learned that there were 80 pangolin specimens collected in the institute, among which 32 were Chinese pangolins and 42 were only recorded as pangolins. Two important clues have been found about the identity of Malayan pangolins. First, in October 2003, six live specimens of Malayan pangolins were collected from the Kunming Institute of Zoology of CAS in Menglian Daizu Lahuzu Wazu Autonomous County in Puer city Yunnan province. Second, in April 2004, Wang Yingxiang, Feng Qing and others found two Malayan pangolins among the collected specimens in Xishuangbanna Natural Reserve in Yunnan province.


In 2005, Wu Shibao, an expert on pangolins at South China Normal University, cooperated with Wang Yingxiang and Feng Qing, published a scientific research paper in Zoological Systematics, “A NEW RECORD OF MAMMALIA IN CHINA—MANIS JAVANICA”. It is recorded in this paper that Malayan pangolins, also known as Manis javanica, is mainly distributed in

Indo China Peninsula, Kra Peninsula, Indonesia and southern Yunnan of China.


On the contrary, regardless of the documentary evidence and physical specimens, the living data of Malayan pangolin observed and accumulated by the CBCGDF pangolin working group over the years can also lead to the conclusion that it is a native species rather than an alien species. According to CBCGDF pangolin working group from January 2017 to May 2019, more than 20 Malayan pangolins were found and rescued from the wild in domestic, its discovery site in Yunnan, Hunan, Guangxi, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Fujian, and other provinces, mostly in Yunnan province, the highest latitude site and the northernmost end of the discovery Malayan pangolin is Dean Jiangxi.


Especially the Malayan pangolin, which was discovered twice in Longchuan County, Dehong Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province. The local villagers said that they were found in the wild. The possibility of commercial smuggling can be ruled out because the local ecological environment is very close and no one would take a pangolin with great commercial value to deep mountains and forests and throw it away" said Zhou Jinfeng, secretary-general of the CBCGDF. For example, in mid-May this year, villagers in Moshui Village, Chengzi Town, Dehong Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, found a Malayan pangolin. When the CBCGDF pangolin working group went to the scene, they confirmed that the local area was surrounded by the deep mountains and forests and the local ecological environment is very close this Malayan pangolin cannot be smuggled to here.


In conclusion, Malayan pangolins are also distributed in China, and they are not alien species. Therefore, there is no doubt that the rescued healthy individuals will be released into the wild as soon as possible.


In addition, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the world's oldest and largest nonprofit environmental organization, mentions "Southern China" in its description of the Malayan pangolin's range. The IUCN is also an international organization designated by the General Assembly of the United Nations as the only permanent observer in the field of natural environment protection and sustainable development.


Also, the Malayan pangolin was also clearly recorded in the Red list of China’s Biodiversity · Vertebrate which jointly compiled and released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in May 2015. However, due to lack of data, it was rated DD.


The findings of these authoritative documents reinforce the conviction of the CBCGDF pangolin working group that the Malayan pangolin is not actually an alien species but has long been distributed in China.


In a recent discussion with relevant experts on this topic, one expert actually said that “domestic (existing)pangolin specimens were bought by (researchers)which cannot prove that Malayan Pangolin is a native species”. This is an astonishing view.


The objective definition of alien species refers to those outside of appeared in the past or present natural distribution range and spread of potential (that is, in the absence of direct and indirect introduce or cannot be distributed without human care) of species, subspecies, or intrasubspecific taxa, including its all possible to survive, part of reproduction and gametes or propagule. To define whether it is " alien species”, a relative central point is defined by the ecosystem in which species live, not by a single region or district.


For example, if a species enters a country from abroad, it may not be an alien species, but a native one. Like the Milu deer. When it was reintroduced from Manor of Utopian Temple in the UK in 1985, it was a native species, not an alien, although it had disappeared for nearly a century in China.


In March this year, Jiang Zhigang, a researcher at the Institute of ZoologyChinese Academy of Sciences and executive deputy director of the Endangered Species Scientific Commission, P.R.C, published a science article entitled "A pangolin can eat 70 million insects each year and the secret weapon is actually it?” Chinese pangolins are mainly distributed in China, in provinces to the south of the Yangtze river, in Taiwan and Hainan island, and Malayan pangolins and Indian pangolins have also been found in China. They are only found in southwest Yunnan province, and few people have seen them," it said.


Therefore, Zhou Jinfeng, secretary-general of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF), was shocked when an expert from a well-known research institution publicly pointed out that "the specimens of Kunming Institute of Zoology of CAS were bought by researchers on the street, which cannot prove their origin in China".


"Does the purchase of a specimen necessarily indicate that the species is alien species? Scientists around the world make specimens, is likely to be bought specimens from a local street, local hunters, locals or from selling smugglers. There are so many possibilities, why conclude that it must be the alien species bought from smugglers?" Zhou Jinfeng considers that, the expert's new theory that "domestic specimens are bought" suggests that the horse pangolin is an alien species, lacking basic judgment and thinking.


(Photo source: Internet)

Original Chinese article:


By / Zheng Nanyu