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Did you know, pangolins are the most trafficked mammal on the planet? On average, one is taken from the wild every five minutes to meet a luxury consumer demand for delicacies and 'alternative' medicines.

Sadly, most people have never heard of a pangolin. Of a recent survey we conducted, only 8% of people knew what a pangolin was. It sounds like an ancient dynastic word for an armoured fighter, or perhaps a mythical dragon-like creature. Well both of these ideas aren’t too far from the truth.

Described as a ‘scaly anteater’, the pangolin is the only mammal with scales, which it uses to protect itself - taking on a dinosaur-like appearance. It’s mainly nocturnal, which has also made it hard for scientists to track its habits. It has no teeth, but instead it has an incredibly long tongue – as long as its body. Pangolins also carry their young on their tails.

Illegally trafficked scales from a pangolin


These beautiful and charismatic creatures receive only a fraction of the attention of rhinos and elephants, yet both sit behind the pangolin on the list of illegal trafficking. They desperately need our help.

Protecting pangolins 

Luckily for the pangolin, WWF and TRAFFIC are working together in Asia and Africa to increase their protection, and in 2016 a global trade ban was agreed on pangolins and other trafficked mammals.

Pangolins also feature in the global wildlife policy agenda, and in October 2018 the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade will again come together to debate how to tackle the illegal trade, with elephants, rhinos and of course pangolins,, on the agenda.

By reducing poaching and demand and disrupting illegal trade chains, we can hopefully bring about an end to wildlife crime in pangolins and other illegally traded animals.

What can you do?

You can help us by reporting wildlife crime, particularly when abroad, but also in the UK.

You can share this page with your social media network, and help us put the plight of the pangolin firmly in the picture.