Threats to Pangolins

The pangolin has the highest level of protection CITES can give a species - and yet pangolins are the most illegally trafficked mammals on the planet.   Why?

Threats to Pangolins

  • In China, pangolin scales are thought to be a cure-all (there’s no evidence of this, by the way) - scales are made of kerotin, the same as our fingernails
  • In Vietnam, they are seen as speciality dishes; their flesh is thought to be a delicacy (as in China); sometimes they are soaked and served in wine
  • In Central and Western Africa, they are hunted for bushmeat.  Nigeria is a particular gateway for the illegal pangolin trade.
  • From Cambodia and Laos, they are smuggled live across the border in Vietnam
  • Some are trafficked by sea
Adopt a Pangolin from Save Vietnam's Wildlfie

Other threats to pangolins

  • In Singapore, they are often roadkill.   There is a National Conservation Strategy and Action Plan to help with Sunda Pangolin conservation in Singapore
  • Like so many species, they are threatened by habitat loss
  • Injuries from snares
  • Their own reproduction rate - about a baby a year - doesn't help their cause

The other problem pangolins have is....

People just don't know about them.  They don't get the same recognition as animals such as polar bears, tigers, rhinos, koalas, snakes, squirrels, birds, horses etc.  

CITES has given pangolins the highest level of protection 
But the illegal trade is still going on…

In 2016, all eight species of pangolin were re-classified to appendix I under the Convention in the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to give them the highest level of protection.  Unfortunately, illegal trade is still ongoing.  In 2017, China seized 11.9 tonnes of pangolin scales - the equivalent of around 20,000 pangolins.

In 2021, ENV secured the largest takedown of a pangolin scale trafficking network.  This was after months of investigation and collaboration with Hanoi Environment Police.  They also recorded 139 pangolin violations which included over 2,125 kg of scales and pangolins seized by authorities.  84 pangolins were successfully confiscated or voluntarily transferred out of the illegal wildlife trade. Find out more here

The Wildlife Justice Commission called for action after identifying a large rise in pangolin scale smuggling. Consequently, their numbers are decreasing quickly Asia and Africa.   In the last 10 years, the Pangolin Crisis Fund says poachers have killed one  million pangolins.  

Pangolins need our help