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

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.

Since 2005, ENV has documented over 69 tons of frozen pangolins and pangolin scales seized from smugglers at Hai Phong, northern Vietnam’s export hub.  Pangolins are often smuggled into this major Vietnamese seaport, before heading north to Chinese border by road.

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