Imperiled Pangolins (and Other Trafficked Animals) Need Our Help

Kaylee Dolen and Meg McIntire

Did you know that February 21st was World Pangolin Day?  The pangolin may not be well-known to most, but unfortunately, it’s a favorite target of the illegal wildlife trade. 

The Guardian reports that, “Over a million animals have been taken from the wild in a decade, upholding a thriving trade primarily in China and Vietnam, that continues to supply chefs with the animal’s meat.” With their body parts used for alleged medicinal purposes, for jewelry, and for food and drink, pangolins face dire conditions today; two species are classified as critically endangered. 

Recently, police in Vietnam recovered over 40 pangolins from poachers. Unfortunately, after handing the pangolins off to forest rangers, the rangers sold the pangolins to restaurants, earning approximately $12,000 for the sale. This upsetting event demonstrates the enormous financial incentives that mark the illegal wildlife trade and the need to dismantle these incentives and foster greater transparency and accountability within countries in order to stop the devastating wildlife trade. 

Want to learn more about pangolins? Check out these facts from The Dodo below

  • There are eight species of pangolins; four living in Asia, four living in Africa.
  • They are also referred to as “scaly anteaters.”
  • Pangolins are mainly nocturnal and feed primarily on insects.
  • They have no teeth, only sticky tongues, which they can extend up to 40 cm (16 in).
  • Pangolins have poor eyesight and hearing, but a strong sense of smell.
  • Pangolin scales are made of keratin and compromise 20 percent of the animal’s body weight. They are a natural defense for the little mammals, but also the reason they are poached.

You can take action to help put an end to the illegal wildlife trade by educating others about the importance of protecting the world’s endangered and threatened wildlife species and by reporting any instances of wildlife trafficking you observe to organizations like 

Our Wildlife Law Program is also working hard to help stop blackmarket wildlife trafficking on a number of different fronts including protecting threatened shark species under the Endangered Species Act. Learn more about our work right here. 

In other wildlife trafficking news, The New York Times Editorial Board recently wrote a piece expressing their concerns over wildlife trade , and a group of politicians, celebrities, and conservationists have called upon China to stop its ivory trade once and for all. Prince William, a staunch opponent of the wildlife trade, is visiting China next week. 

We will also feature a story in our spring edition of Action Line magazine about the role the internet plays in aiding illegal wildlife trafficking and possible solutions to this problem. You can recieve a print copy of our magazine by becoming a member with us today.