Pangolins are the world’s most trafficked mammal. Curling into a ball when threatened leaves these unique animals particularly vulnerable to poaching. Over time and through our Tiger and Elephant campaigns, our investigators have encountered criminals who also traffic pangolins. In 2018, we’ve launched a Pangolin Project to help protect the world’s only scaled mammal.

The problem

In the past 10 years, more than a million pangolins are believed to have been taken from the wild in Asia and Africa. If illegal poaching continues at the current appalling rate, it’s thought that another 10 years might see them wiped out altogether.

In July 2017, in just one horrifying example, Chinese customs found the largest ever single seizure of illegally trafficked pangolin scales: 11.9 tonnes, estimated to have come from at least 20,000 individual African pangolins.

The difference we’ve made

Our dedicated Pangolin Project was only set up in 2018 but for the past three years we have been collating seizure data, which is illustrated in our interactive Pangolin trade map. This has provided an invaluable source of information for law enforcement and academics examining trends in the illegal trade and for advocates of the international ban on the trade of all species of pangolins, which was secured in September 2016. Information obtained by our Tiger team on an international Chinese pangolin trader has already been shared with law enforcement.


Moving forward

We know from our investigative work that pangolin scales are being smuggled from Africa to Asia, alongside elephant ivory and rhino horn, and within Asia, alongside tiger and leopard parts. Often through the same channels and by the same criminal organisations.

With on-the-ground partners, our new Pangolin Project will enhance enforcement against the criminal syndicates that are trafficking pangolins, primarily from Africa, by providing actionable information to enforcement authorities and ensuring they also have the capacity and skills to properly implement the protection of pangolins. The gathering, analysis and dissemination of information on the criminal networks will be supported by advocacy to raise awareness of the pangolin trade among the judiciary and the provision of training to a new intelligence unit in one of the key countries.

How you can help

Your gift today will help us continue our vital investigative and campaigning work.

We’d also ask that everyone says no to buying any products containing pangolins, particularly if you live in or travel to, China or Vietnam. Be careful when buying Traditional Chinese Medicine ‘herbal’ products, including any that have been imported. Check ingredients and make sure it doesn’t include “Chuan Shan Jia”, also written as 穿山甲