China has upgraded the protection of Pangolin, believed to be the intermediate host of the COVID19, to that of the first class protected animals on par with endangered species like pandas.
Pangalin meat is used as traditional Chinese medicines to promote lactation and cure impotence resulting in the massive poaching of the mammal.
After initially suspecting the bat and the snake for the Coronavirus, Chinese scientists believe that the pangolin may be an intermediate host of the novel COVID19 to humans.
The contagion, which has turned into a pandemic resulting in the worst health global crisis, was believed to have been transmitted from Huanan seafood wholesale market in the COVID19 epicentre the chinese city of Wuhan.
This weekend, China has announced to upgrade all species of the pangolin from second class to first class protected animals considering their rapidly decreasing numbers due to habitat destruction and overhunting, state run Global Times reported on Saturday.
Other first class protected animals include Tibetan anmtelope, giant pandas and red crowned cranes.
China's animal protection authority said it will work more to rescue and protect the species with measures which include improving their habitat, cracking down on trafficking and poaching as well as setting up a gene bank and protection research centre for the pangolin.
At present, all the eight existing pangolin species in the world have been listed as endangered species in their respective habitat, Sun Quanhul, a scientist from the World Animal Protection, told Global Times on Friday.
Chinese Pangolins were widely distributed in 17 provinces in the south of the Yangtze river.
However, a chinese survey in 2003 showed that the number of pangolins dropped to about 64,000 and their living area reduced to 11 provinces, the Xinhua news agency reported.
China banned pangolin hunting from the wild in 2007, it stopped commercial imports of the pangolin products and pangolin completely.
However, their number kept decreasing due to the insufficient punishment on eating pangolins and continuous habitat destruction, the Global Times reported.
In February, China's top legislature passed a decision amid the Coronavirus crisis to thoroughly ban the illegal wildlife hunting and eliminate habits of eating wild animals, which was seen as an most important move to crackdown on wildlife poaching, including pangolin.
The upgradation of protection to the pangolins brought mixed reactions on the Chinese social media platforms.
Please let go of the pangolins, humans have already so many things to eat, a Sina Weibo user wrote.
Sun suggested to remove pangolin from the Chinese Pharmacopoeia and strengthen the protection of wild animals used in the medicine, adding that a large number of synthetic products and and herbs acn replace the effects of wild animals used in the medicine.
Sun also called for an international cooperation as the illegal trade of the pangolin has surged in the recent years.