India has moved the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora seeking more protection for the Chinese pangolin and the Indian pangolin, which are medium-sized nocturnal mammals also known as scaly anteaters. The species is expected to see a 50% drop in numbers over the next two decades, The Telegraph reported.

The Chinese pangolin is endemic only in the north and north-eastern states of India, besides Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, China, Lao PDR, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, and the Indian pangolin is found across the country. India has proposed that both animals be moved from Appendix II to Appendix I of the CITES international agreement, which was signed by governments aiming to ensure that trade in species of wild animals and plants does not endanger their survival. Appendix 1 includes species that face the highest threat of extinction from among CITES-listed animals and plants; Appendix II lists those may face extinction so unless trade is closely monitored.

The proposal pushes for pangolins to be moved to Appendix I as the species is facing a rising threat of poaching in India and internationally, especially for the trade of its meat and scales, officials said. Pangolin meat is consumed or sold in local markets, but its scales are delivered to middlemen to be send to China via Myanmar and Nepal, according to an article published in Traffic Journal (2015) by Rajesh Kumar Mohapatra.

The matter will be discussed at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties of CITES at Johannesburg, South Africa, from September 24 to October 5.