Pangolins: Advocating for a Marginalized Animal

Pangolins, which look much like scaly anteaters, are a rare mammal located Asia and Africa.  Within the last two decades, it has been estimated by the Pangolin Specialist Group that pangolin populations have fallen by 80%, and within the last decade, over 1,000,000 pangolins have been illegally poached (Mongabay).  Traffickers often sell pangolins to use their scales for traditional medicine and their meat as a delicacy meal.

Seized pangolin corpses from a recent raid on a trafficking ring.
(Photo : Z. X. Zhang via Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit)

Although pangolins have been placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species and trafficking has been made illegal in many countries, pangolin trafficking remains a rampant issue in many countries.  This excessive and senseless poaching is quickly leading to their extinction.  Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Program Director at the Zoological Society of London said of pangolin trafficking, "In the 21st Century we really should not be eating species to extinction—there is simply no excuse for allowing this illegal trade to continue” (Mongabay).    Even though the pangolin is a small, little known animal of seemingly minimal significance, it is a precious creature that we are in grave danger of losing forever at the hand of humans.  

(Photo by Bjorn Olesen/TRAFFIC)
It is our responsibility as part of the global community to do whatever we can to stop the extinction of this rare animal.  Losing an entire species of any kind would be a devastating loss to the world we live in.  We must be willing to fight just as fervently for less popular animals, like pangolins, as we would for more popular animals like tigers or rhinoceroses.  When it comes to the preservation of our world’s species, they all hold equal value.  If we are able to work together to prevent the elimination of the most marginalized animals, perhaps there will be hope for other endangered species as well.  

To find ways you can get involved today in the fight to save pangolins from illegal trafficking and extinction, please visit these websites: