This article from Yahoo is making the rounds on the internet. Chinese officials seized a large amount of pangolin scales. Pangolins are severely threatened in China, but their scales are highly prized as a traditional medicine, therefore they are still subject to collection.
Called chuan shan jia in pinyin, pangolin scales are in the herbal category of blood invigorators. Also in that category are several powerful plant medicines that can substitute quite successfully for pangolin. In fact, the rich herbal traditions of the many regions of China means almost no medicinal is irreplaceable in its function. In light of the flexibility of the medicines, there is zero reason to continue to take pangolins for their scales.
Animals aren't the only ones threatened by Chinese medicine. Some plants once numerous in the wild are now nearly extinct there, existing primarily in cultivation. American ginseng is threatened right here in the US. Modern American herbalism training typically includes instruction on morality in herbal medicine, and how to take plants responsibly and with concern for future generations. China must reckon with these issues now, or we risk the complete loss of some valuable plant allies.
I have never used pangolin, rhino, or bear bile, and I never will.