Pangolins: The most poached mammal in the world

03 December 2018

Pangolins have earned the reputation as one of the most illegally trafficked mammal. There are eight species of pangolin, four in Asia and four in Africa.

Why are pangolins being poached? 

Pangolin scales are used in traditional Asian medicine, particularly in China and Vietnam. They are believed to have curative properties; however, pangolin scales are made of keratin, the same material that makes human fingernails and hair, and have no proven medicinal value. 

Pangolin meat is also considered to be a delicacy in some countries, and the scales are also used as decorations for rituals and jewellery. 

How to help pangolins 

To combat the global trade in their bodies and scales and to protect pangolins from the unimaginable suffering they endure we are calling for:  

  • Strong enforcement of national and international laws  
  • Removal of pangolins from the Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China – the traditional medicine handbook for the industry  
  • Investment in and promotion of herbal and synthetic alternatives   
  • Combined and coordinated efforts by governments, NGOs and the traditional Asian medicine community to eliminate consumer demand for pangolin-based traditional Asian medicines, particularly in China and Vietnam   
  • Support for alternative livelihoods, alleviation of poverty and education programmes within rural communities wherever pangolins are found globally, to stop the slaughter.  

You can read more in our full report Suffering at scale: Pangolin poaching for the traditional medicine trade

Not only is this a major conservation issue – it’s a devastating animal welfare concern. – Dr Neil D’Cruze, our Global Wildlife Adviser
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