Black Market China: The Demand for Pangolins

China’s Black Market poses a serious threat to animals around the globe, by illegally supplying exotic animals in respond to the demand for them. One of these threatened animals currently being poached and sold in the Chinese Black market are pangolins, a scaly, clawed mysterious creature about the size as a house cat., a website for Global Black Market information lists pangolin meat as costing $300 per kilogram, and pangolin scales as $3,000 per kilogram. Where does this demand come from?

Pangolin (Gaetan Lee) Tags: london history scale animal museum mammal stuffed december natural scales plates creature 2009 manis anteater pangolin scaly manidae lpate
One of the biggest reasons for the demand for pangolins in China is that their scales are considered to have great medicinal effects. Pangolin scales are rich in keratin, the same protein found in human nails and hair. For this reason, false information stating that ground pangolin scales may help cure ailments like certain types of cancer and asthma. To make matters worse, the growing population in China has also led to a growth in the demand for these scales, which so many believe to have the cure to serious health issues.

A second, possibly more disturbing reason for the demand for pangolins on the Black Market is that they are considered a sought-out delicacy in Chinese and other Asian cuisines. Pangolins are traded frozen and alive, sometimes mixed with snakes and other reptiles to more smoothly pass through the market, and sold to restaurants for a high price. John Sutter, a columnist for CNN traveled to Vietnam and visited a restaurant rumored to prepare pangolin as a dish. He reported seeing a “wild animal” section near the back of the menu, a picture of a live pangolin, and prices. He was told he would have to purchase a whole pangolin at $350 per kilo, and with the smallest pangolin the restaurant had being five kilos, he’d be expected to pay at least $1,750 for his meal. While he did not order a pangolin, he interviewed several Vietnamese citizens who had eaten them before. Pangolins are said to be one of the most expensive meats in Asia, and according to several reports they will always be demanded if their Black Market trade cannot be stopped.

Both of these reasons for the demand of pangolins in Asia can be combated with education and other conservation efforts currently being funded, planned, and implemented.

To learn more about and help these efforts, take a look at these helpful resources: