Across China: Chinese scientists make breakthroughs in captive breeding of Malayan pangolins-Xinhua

Across China: Chinese scientists make breakthroughs in captive breeding of Malayan pangolins

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2022-05-04 12:49:30

NANNING, May 4 (Xinhua) -- A newborn Malayan pangolin snuggles in its mother's arms, struggling to open its eyes at the Pangolin Rescue and Breeding Base of the Guangxi Forestry Research Institute. It is a captive-bred third filial generation pangolin and the sixth born at the base.

Chinese scientists have tackled the difficulties of the captive breeding of critically endangered Malayan pangolins to the third filial generation. Study results were published in the journal Communications Biology in October.

Yan Dingyu, an associate researcher with the Guangxi Forestry Research Institute, and his team have been breeding and observing 33 wild Malayan pangolins and 49 captive-born offspring since 2016, and they have recorded the reproductive biological characteristics of the species.

Pangolins are an important species that influences the structure, function and health of forest ecosystems. Due to excessive hunting and habitat loss, wild stocks of pangolins once plummeted sharply. Captive breeding has thus become a hopeful means to protect the species from extinction.

However, captive breeding cannot provide sufficient food and an adequate environment that can meet the long-term needs of pangolins. There also remains insufficient knowledge about the sexual maturity, estrus, sexual cycle and pregnancy of pangolins.

In 2016, Yan's team had 33 wild pangolins and has since produced 49 captive-born offspring spanning three filial generations. These advances provide more comprehensive information for people to understand pangolins, and have implications for the conservation of endangered Malayan pangolins and the provision of scientific guidance for the management of other pangolin species.

Darren Pietersen, a pangolin expert at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, remarked that the study was the first of its kind that he knew of that has been carried out in a systematic way and has reported the successful breeding of the third filial generation.

Yan said that further research will be carried out to maintain the current captive pangolin breeding population and to reintroduce pangolins into the wild according to the IUCN Guidelines for Reintroductions.

The reintroduction of the pangolins includes subjecting them to comprehensive disease screening and genetic diversity analysis, which means more wildlife breeding and rescue professionals are needed.

The Guangxi Forestry Research Institute has begun building a new pangolin center, which will include an imitation natural enclosure, wild training ground, physiological laboratory and other facilities to provide support for further research.

China has upgraded its protection of pangolins to the highest level and intensified a crackdown on harmful actions such as illegal hunting and trading to better protect the species.