The Pangolin Crisis
Over the past year, there has been increasing media coverage about pangolins, for all the wrong reasons. A species that has survived for 80 Million years sadly face extinction and with the recent discoveries of mass trafficking of pangolins to Asia in 2018 and early 2019, their numbers are depleting at an astronomical pace.
The pangolin is officially the world’s most heavily trafficked mammal, as listed by CITES.
There are eight different species of pangolin, four of which are found in Africa and four found in Asia. Having depleted most of the Asian pangolin population, attention has moved to African Pangolin’s that are now being targeted for illegal intercontinental trade to Asian markets.
Let’s look at each of the pangolin species, and their current IUCN status.
First, get to understand the meaning of each status:
Critically Endangered (CR): A species facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
Endangered (EN): A species considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
Vulnerable (VU): A species considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
Chinese Pangolin – Critically Endangered (CR)
Found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Hong Kong, India, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nepal, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Sunda Pangolin – Critically Endangered (CR)
Found in Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Myanmar,
Indian Pangolin – Endangered (EN)
Found in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Philippine Pangolin – Endangered (EN)
Found in the Philippines only
Giant Pangolin – Vulnerable (VU)
Found in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, DR Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Tanzania.
Temminck’s Ground Pangolin – Vulnerable (VU)
Found Southern Africa, East Africa, Angola, Botswana, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
White-bellied Pangolin (Tree Pangolin)- Vulnerable (VU)
Found in Central and West Africa, parts of East Africa) – Vulnerable (VU)
Black-bellied Pangolin (also known as Long-tailed Pangolin) – Vulnerable (VU)
Found in Cameroon, Congo, DR Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
It is evident that attention has turned to Africa due to the depletion of the Asian numbers of Pangolins, hence the dramatic increase of pangolin poaching taking place in recent years.
With the demand drastically outweighing the supply chain, the price for pangolin has increased dramatically: Today the price tips at USD600 per kilogram, versus just USD14 in the 1990s.
Why does the Asian market desire Pangolins?
Pangolin Scales – They are the only mammals in the world that covered entirely in scales, which are made of the same substance as rhino horn, keratin, much like our human fingernails and hair.
Much like the rhino horn, the scales are believed to have medicinal values, for a variety of purposes like curing asthma, cancer, psoriasis, to improving blood circulation and even helping lactation for women that are breastfeeding. The scales are never used fresh; they are always dried and roasted
Pangolin Meat – Considered a delicacy in both Vietnam and China, astronomical prices are charged in restaurants that serve “exotic wildlife.” Pangolins are often killed, skinned and frozen before being traded on the black market. They are also eaten in parts of Africa as they are hunted for food in the wild.
We sincerely hope that with the world watching and media turning its attention to an animal that few people are familiar with, that there is hope in saving this species. Get involved and donate to the right causes where you can, that make a difference on the frontline.
The Jabulani Team.
Read about Ranger Ruan Roos’s rare encounter between hyenas and a pangolin