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Researchers at the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Kolkata have developed tools to differentiate the scales of Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) and Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla).
About the Research:
- The researchers characterised the morphological features of the Indian and Chinese Pangolin.
- They also investigated genetic variations between the two species. The researchers investigated this by sequencing 624 scales of pangolins. After sequencing, they compared the sequences with all eight pangolin species.
- Based on the size, shape, weight and ridge counts on the scales, the team was able to categorise the difference between the Indian and Chinese Pangolin.
Difference between Indian and Chinese Pangolin:
Source: The Hindu
- The Chinese Pangolin has smaller scales compared to the Indian pangolin.
- A terminal scale is present on the lower side of the tail in the Indian Pangolin. But the terminal scale is absent in the Chinese Pangolin.
- The dry weight of the scales from one Chinese pangolin is roughly about 500 to 700 grams. However, in the case of Indian pangolin, it goes up from 1.5 kg to 1.8 kg.
Significance of this research:
- The wildlife officers during the confiscation of Pangolin scales can just weigh and estimate how many pangolins might have been killed.
- These findings will also helpful for law enforcement agencies to identify the pangolin species on the spot during large seizures.
- Firstly, Pangolins are scaly anteater mammals of the order Pholidota. They have large, protective keratin scales covering their skin. They are the only known mammals on earth to have this feature.
- Secondly, Pangolins in India: Out of the eight species of pangolin, the Indian Pangolin and the Chinese Pangolin are found in India.
- Thirdly, Indian Pangolin:
- Distribution of Indian Pangolin is wide in India, except in the arid region, high Himalayas and the North-East. The species also occurs in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
- IUCN Status: Endangered
- Wildlife Protection Act,1972: under Schedule I.
- Fourthly, Chinese Pangolin:
- Distribution of Pangolins happen widely in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and the northeastern part of India.
- IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
- Wildlife Protection Act,1972: Under Schedule I
- Fifthly, Threats:
- Between 2000 and 2019, an estimate of about 8.9 lakh pangolins was trafficked globally. This mainly involved Asian and African pangolins. This has led to a drastic decline of the species.
- Traditional East Asian medicines also use the Pangolins scale. So, Pangolins are killed for their scales.
- All this has led to an estimated illegal trade worth $2.5 billion every year.
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Source: The Hindu