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Pangolin: The Most Trafficked Animal in the World

Updated on December 1, 2019
tony55 profile image

This author loves to research and write about traditional cultures.

Pangolin man

Pangolin man
Pangolin man

Extant Mammal Orders

Pangolin is found in the group of extant mammal orders of certain animals. They are grouped with odd-toed ungulates, bats, and shrews. Others are moles, hedgehogs, tree shrews, picas.

They are the most trafficked animal in the world despite their elusive nature and rarity. This scaly mammal eaten as a delicacy while the unique scales is used in traditional medicine. Despite the illegal trade and ban in export it is in high demand in Vietnam, China and Africa.

Species of Pangolin

The species are segmented into physical characteristics, behavior, size and location. Formally classified as Ant-eating mammals such as armadillos, anteaters or sloths scientist equate close relation to carnivore. Some place them among extant groups or suborders or genus Manis. However new study place them in three genera Smutsia, Manis, Phataginus.

The Mammal


Types of Pangolin

There are many species of Pangolin in Africa, Asia and Europe. Types include Giant ground pangolin, black-belied, white-belied. Asian Species are Philippine, Sunda, Chinese, Indian pangolin.

  • include Giant ground pangolin
  • black-belied
  • white-belied
  • Philippine
  • Sunda
  • Chinese
  • Indian pangolin

Pangolins: The Most Trafficked Mammal You've N

Where they are found

They are found in four regions of Africa and different geographical areas. Common regions they reside are South Africa, China, Philippines, Nigeria and India.

  • China
  • Philippines
  • Nigeria
  • India
  • South Africa

What they eat

The wholly scaled mammal are good foragers with no teeth for biting or chewing. They have poor vision sense and rely on hearing, smell. Pangolin are designed to dig for termites with claws on strong sturdy legs.

Their stomach is capable of ingesting small stones while sticky long tongue aids feeding. They use the tongue to scoop prey or food into the mouth. Common diet includes insect larvae, ants and termites.


  • insect larvae
  • ants
  • termites
  • different insects

Defence Mechanism

defence mechanism
defence mechanism

Interesting Facts

Under attack the defense mechanism is to roll up into a ball. The name pangolin is coined from a Malaya word “pengguling” meaning rolling up. They are good climbers despite their funny shape and are seen up in trees or in burrows.

Other adaptation include survival in savannah lands, dry woodlands or tropical forests. Pangolin are the only mammals entirely covered in keratin scales from tail to head which account for one fifth of entire weight. There are eight species the long-tailed, giant, tree Pangolin, Malayan, Indian, and Palawan Pangolin.


  1. defense mechanism is to roll up into a ball
  2. name pangolin a Malaya word “pengguling” meaning rolling up
  3. good climbers
  4. good burrows
  5. adapted to savannah lands, dry woodlands or tropical forests
  6. only mammals entirely covered in keratin scales from tail to head
  7. eight species
  8. the eat ants, insect larvae

he ‘Pangolin Men’ Saving The World’s Most Trafficked Mammal

Conservative effort

An estimated 150,000 are killed every year around the world. Conservative efforts are on to stem the illegal trade in the animal. All eight species are protected from game hunters or wildlife poachers.

The gentle mammal is on the road to extinction so serious conservative efforts is needed. This is because they are rapidly going extinct because of poachers. Their skin, scales and meat are sold through underground international trade in the animal.

The scales are used for traditional medicines, meat eaten as bush meat in Africa and Asia. Smuggling, trafficking and poaching are a real problem for the conservative effort.

About the Animal

African Giant
Stumpy fore legs
Long Sticky Tongue
White belied
Sharp Claws on front feet


Although the main diet consists of insects and fauna. Males attract female by marking their territory with feces or urine. Tail fights are common with rival males if females are in short supply.

They mate once a year while gestation period is up to 5 months depending on the species. Female manages 1-3 offspring’s per litter with average length 6 in. offspring’s are nursed in barrows for about 3 weeks of their lives with weaning in three months.

Why I wrote this article

I stumbled on a documentary about the animal on a cable news network. That was the first time I heard about pangolin and felt compelled to add my voice. This threatened species need all our help or they will go the way of the dodo. If you wish to help you can share this post on social media.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 femi


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    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      3 days ago from UK

      I had not heard of pangolin before. This is an interesting and informative article.

    • tony55 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 days ago from Nigeria

      Hello readers i hope you like te article. Another way to join the cause is through campaigns check this out.


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