It took less than an hour to find pangolin scales in a Chinese market

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This text has been adapted from an excerpt from Poached: Inside the Dark World of Wildlife Trafficking by Rachel Love Nuwer.

We humans love wild animals. We love them in jewelery, hunting trophies, pets or to eat their flesh. Another big consumer is traditional Chinese medicine.

Although plants make up most of the ingredients of this 3,000-year-old medical belief, it also uses components from some 1,500 different animals. Of the 112 most frequently used species, 22% are threatened and 51% are on the way, according to Zhibin Meng of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

While tigers and rhinos are the most famous examples, pangolins are also on the list. Their scales – consisting entirely of keratin, the same material as our hair and nails – are considered as a sort of universal remedy for all kinds of ailments, from simple paronychia to obstruction of the fallopian tubes.

Over the last decade, poaching has killed more than a million pangolins in Asia, depopulating most of the forests of these sweet and fearful creatures. To respond to the lack of pangolins in Asia, the traffic has moved to Africa, where it is now slaughtered up to 2.7 million per year, mainly to supply the Chinese and Vietnamese markets.

A pangolin baby at the Singapore Zoo, June 30, 2017 | Roslan Rahman / AFP

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Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm "type =" text "content =" The specialists told me that the scales of pangolin were ubiquitous on the Chinese black market, but I wanted to check for myself the veracity of this (…) Read more on Slate.fr

"data-reactid =" 30 "> The specialists told me that pangolin scales were omnipresent on the Chinese black market, but I wanted to check for myself the truth of this (…) Read more on Slate.fr