Credit: Save Vietnam's Wildlife

Helping pangolins

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 organised crime groups that also traffic pangolins. In 2018, we launched our Pangolin Project to help protect the world’s only scaled mammal.

中文版本 (Chinese version)

The problem

Pangolins have existed on Earth for about 60 million years, but over recent decades their wild populations have declined dramatically. In the past 10 years alone, more than a million pangolins are believed to have been taken from the wild in Asia and Africa. This is primarily because of poaching and illegal trade to supply consumers locally and internationally with scales and meat. Scales are used in traditional medicines and for jewellery, particularly in east Asia, and the meat is consumed across Africa and Asia as a subsistence and delicacy food.

If the illegal pangolin trade continues at such industrial levels, it is thought that another 10 years might see them wiped out altogether. The trade is enabled by a range of factors, but legal domestic markets in demand countries, corruption and weak law enforcement play a major role.

  • 60

    million years pangolins have lived on Earth

  • 1

    million pangolins are believed to have been taken from the wild in the past 10 years

  • 10

    years until the pangolin may be wiped out altogether

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 organised crime groups.

In collaboration with civil society partners, and with funding from the UK Government Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund, our Pangolin Project will enhance enforcement against the organised crime groups trafficking pangolins. It will provide actionable information to enforcement authorities and provide them with the opportunity to build the capacity and skills to fully implement laws that protect pangolins.

The gathering, analysis and dissemination of information on organised crime groups will be supported by advocacy to raise awareness of pangolin trade issues and the provision of training to law enforcement agencies in a key source and transit country.