Pangolins – The World’s Most Trafficked Animal

Despite pangolins remaining relatively unknown, the illegal trade in pangolins has reached epidemic proportions. With over one million pangolins believed to have been traded illegally in the last decade (source: IUCN), pangolins are now the most heavily trafficked wild animal in the world.

Pangolins are in high demand for their meat which considered a local delicacy, for their scales for medicinal purposes in China, and their leather for wearable goods in the USA.
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, however illegal trade is still ongoing; in 2017, China made the biggest recorded seizure of pangolin scales at 11.9 tonnes, which is the equivalent of around 20,000 pangolins.


DSWF Working to Protect Pangolins

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) works at all levels of the illegal wildlife chain to protect pangolins and help to reduce demand on the black market.

Our work recognises the urgent need to increase the knowledge and understanding of this incredible species, so we fund demand reduction campaigns in Asia aimed at changing consumer behaviours and educating people about the plight of the pangolin.

We also fund ground-based work in Africa, ensuring pangolins remain as protected as possible in the wild and that those tasked with protecting them are as well-trained and equipped as possible in pangolin conservation techniques.

Read DSWF’s position against the trade of pangolins.


Learn More About Pangolins

There are eight species of pangolin in the world – four native to Africa, and four native to Asia.

Pangolins are easily recognisable as they are the only mammals in the world to be covered in scales. Their scales are made of keratin (the same material as our hair and nails) and are the part of pangolins highest in demand for the black market.

Pangolins are also extremely shy; they live very secret, secluded lives and are rarely spotted out in the wild. When threatened, they curl into a protective ball, which with the help of their scales makes them difficult for predators to attack.


How to Help Pangolins

Please help us protect pangolins: