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Global meeting votes for trade ban on endangered pangolins

Delegates at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Johannesburg voted Wednesday to ban all trade of the endangered pangolin, the world’s most heavily trafficked mammal.

All eight species of pangolin are set to be moved into CITES’ highest category of protection, which bans all international trade in animals facing extinction.

“(The) committee agrees all pangolins — African and Asian — move to appendix I,” CITES said in statement.

The reclusive, gentle mammals are prized as an edible delicacy and ingredient in traditional medicine, especially in China and Vietnam — as well as across Africa.

Rocketing demand for their meat and body parts has fuelled a boom in illegal hunting.

More than a million pangolins are believed to have been poached from the wild in the past decade.

“This is a huge win and rare piece of good news for some of the world’s most trafficked and endangered animals,” Ginette Hemley, conservation group WWF’s head of delegation at the CITES conference, said in a statement.

“(It) eliminates any question about legality of trade, making it harder for criminals to traffic them.

“The parties must move swiftly to enforce the decision. Illegal trade will continue to threaten pangolins as long as demand for their meat and scales persists.”

Previously CITES allowed international trade in pangolins under strict conditions.