Pangolin, The most Trafficked Animal in the World

Pangolins are officially the most-trafficked animal in the world.

In October of 2016 at the CITES convention held in Johannesburg, South Africa, all eight species were upgraded to Appendix 1. This means that international trade in animals is strictly prohibited. In addition to this there are some amazing people working tirelessly to save this exceptional species.

All eight species are listed as endangered or vulnerable on the IUCN red list.

There are eight species of this scaled and elusive creature. Four of them, The Indian pangolin, Formosan pangolin, Sunda pangolin and Palawan pangolin are found in Asia and are different because they have tiny bristles between their scales. In Africa the four species found south of the Sahara are the Temminck’s ground pangolin, Tree pangolin, Giant pangolin and the Long-tailed pangolin.

These ant- & termite eating little animals are the only mammals covered in scales consisting of keratin (the same as in fingernails, hair, and similar to rhino horn).

As they have no defence against humans, aside from rolling themselves into a ball, poachers can simply pick them up and bag them without any resistance. This makes them vulnerable beyond belief.


Interesting Facts about Pangolins:

  • They only have one baby per year, in Winter.
  • When threatened, they roll into a ball to try and protect themselves. The name ‘Pangolin’ is derived from meaning ‘something that rolls into a ball’.
  • Humans are their worst enemy, as other animals mostly leave them alone. Lions and leopards will try their luck, but cannot bite through the scales.
  • Pangolins walk on their hind feet, using their tails for balance and holding their front feet with its sharp claws in the air like hands. They use their powerful claws to break open termite mounds and ants nests to get to the juicy insects inside.
  • They can climb trees and swim.
  • Their lifespan is unknown, as they do not do well in captivity. The oldest recorded pangolin in captivity lived for 19 years.
  • Pangolin scales are smuggled by the ton, meaning that thousands of these animals are being killed per month. It is estimated that around 100 000 pangolins are killed and smuggled every year.
  • They do not have teeth, thus they cannot chew. The millions of insects they eat annually are ground up in their stomachs via stones and keratin to enable digestion.
  • They grow 50cm – 1m in length, with their weight being 5 – 15 kg. Their sticky tongues can be longer than their bodies!
  • Pangolins are Solitary, Nocturnal Animals.
  • Poaching of Pangolins is fuelled by Superstitious beliefs of ‘Medicinal’ efficacy.
  • A coat of armor made from Pangolin scales was given to King George III in 1820.


  • Share this Article, and create awareness for the plight of these animals
  • Keep your eyes and ears open, and report all Wildlife Crime and Suspicious Behaviour to your nearest Authority
  • Support trusted Conservation Authorities, whose Anti-Poaching teams will also protect Pangolins in their territories and projects. Make sure these organizations adhere to Transparency and #EthicalConservation Practices. To Support Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation in our various Wildlife Projects, please go to: Help our Wildlife
  • Share this information on all Social Media Platforms.
  • Educate Children where possible, and foster the love for animals in their hearts.

 Copyright 2018: Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation

Please Share this Article, Page or Post here

Posted in Blogs for Wildlife.