Poaching and wildlife trafficking is running rampant, with a multi-billion dollar illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products happening worldwide.
And one of the animals most threatened by trafficking is the pangolin.
These elusive mammals are covered in hard keratin scales, but their best natural defenses haven’t protected them from poachers: an estimated one million pangolins were poached in a decade. And this number may be much higher with reports from Challender, et.al (2020), revealing that 195,000 pangolins were trafficked in 2019 for their scales alone.
According to Challender, et.al (2020), an estimated 195,000 pangolins were trafficked in 2019 for their scales.
Pangolins are in high demand in Asia and Africa, as well as here in the US.
Their skins are used in leather products like cowboy boots, their meat is consumed in high–end restaurants in Asian countries like China and Vietnam, and their scales are used in traditional medicines. 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.
Currently, scientists are examining a possible link between the pangolin and the coronavirus, though there is not yet verified proof that can conclusively determine a connection. What we do know is that illegal and unregulated wildlife markets provide a potentially fertile environment for this type of viral mutation and infection of humans, at times with fatal consequences.
WWF supports a permanent closure of illegal and unregulated markets that trade in wildlife. If we do not put an end to the poaching crisis and illegal trade of wild animals for bushmeat, medicinal value, or as pets, we will always risk being exposed to these types of public health outbreaks.
How you can help
Pangolins are the most trafficked mammals in the world. We must act quickly to protect them, and we need your help.