What is the World’s most illegally trafficked mammal?


Also called scaly anteaters, Pangolins are mammals of the Pholidota order which includes anteaters, sloths. and armadillos. They are native to sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia and can range in size from 12″ to 39″ long. These scaley mammals have long tongues which they use to dine on ants and termites. Pangolins are solitary, reclusive, and nocturnal. When threatened they roll up into a ball – similar to an armadillo. A female pangolin will produce a litter of one to three offspring which she will nurture for two years. They are difficult to raise in captivity due to their reliance on wide-ranging habitats and very specific diets, as well as their decreased immune responses due to a genetic dysfunction – all of which makes them extremely fragile animals.

Today is World Pangolin Day and I’m afraid we’ll be hearing more and more about the plight of the pangolin because they are in danger of becoming extinct. In addition to deforestation of their natural habitats, these gentle creatures are boiled alive so that both their meat (considered to be a “delicacy”) and their scales can be used. It’s estimated that 100,000 pangolins are trafficked to China and Vietnam each year – with an average of nearly 300 being killed EACH DAY. Asian populations mistakenly believe that their ground-up scales can stimulate lactation, dissolve blood, promote blood circulation, cure cancer or asthma. Pangolins were removed from the official pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China in 2020.

In the past decade, numerous seizures of illegally trafficked pangolin and pangolin meat have taken place in Asia. In one such incident in April 2013, 10,000 kilograms (22,000 pounds) of pangolin meat were seized from a Chinese vessel that ran aground in the Philippines. In another case in August 2016, an Indonesian man was arrested after police raided his home and found over 650 pangolins in freezers on his property. The same threat is reported in Nigeria, where the animal is on the verge of extinction due to overexploitation.

Poaching and wildlife trafficking is running rampant to fuel the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products, with an estimated value of up to $23 billion annually. And one of the animals most threatened by trafficking is the pangolin. More than one million pangolins were poached over ten years, with an estimated 195,000 trafficked in 2019 for their scales alone. Their skins are used in leather products, their meat is consumed as a delicacy in high-end restaurants in Asia and locally in Africa as bushmeat, and their scales are used in traditional medicine. Through online apps and platforms, pangolin products are sold around the world, including in the US, and demand has brought several pangolin species to the brink of extinction.
Despite an international ban on trade of all pangolins and their products, pangolins are still being poached in Asia and Africa and their parts are being sold around the world online. They’re coveted for their meat and scales in Asia, and their skin is used in leather products like bags, boots, and belts around the world, including in the US. As a result, all eight species are endangered and protected by the countries they inhabit, as well as under CITES — the international wildlife trade law.

More Information:
Pangolins are scale-covered, ant-eating mammals known for their body-length tongues and the ability to roll up into an impenetrable ball when threatened. But while pangolins are great at defending against lion claws and tiger teeth, they are easy prey for the worst predator: humans. Pangolins are prized for their meat and scales in parts of Asia. The scales are used in traditional medicine, while pangolin meat is the ultimate status symbol. Just one small animal can fetch thousands of dollars. It is no wonder poachers are taking these innocent animals from the wild at an ever-increasing pace.
Pangolin.Africa is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the survival of the most highly trafficked wildlife species on the continent – the African Pangolin. Through our three-pronged approach of Publicity, Participation and Protection we are working with partners in the tourism, conservation and corporate fields to increase education and awareness around all four African pangolin species; contribute towards much-needed research; and implement protection and rehabilitation projects on the ground. We also play an integral role in bringing together and supporting other individuals and organisations across Africa who are working in the pangolin conservation space.
World Pangolin Day is an opportunity for pangolin enthusiasts to join together in raising awareness about these unique mammals — and their plight. Pangolin numbers are rapidly declining in Asia and Africa.
The demand for pangolins comes mostly from China, where pangolin scales are unfortunately believed to be a cure-all of sorts and pangolin flesh is considered a delicacy. In Vietnam, pangolins are frequently offered at restaurants catering to wealthy patrons who want to eat rare and endangered wildlife. There is no evidence to support claims regarding medicinal properties of pangolin scales or any other part of the pangolin.

Wild @ Life
WildatLife is working intensively, both undercover and emergency, in the notorious Nigerian wet-markets. The trafficking is decimating the wildlife population and are places that gives birth to pandemics. We need a government level both on national and international level to stop the trade. The Customs Service in Lagos, Nigeria seized lion bones and pangolin scales worth 952 million Naira roughly £2 million, comprising of 162 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 8,800kgs and 57 sacks last month.

ℳ –


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s