National Geographic : 2019 Jun
Tikki Hywood Foundation Kampala Yaoundé Douala Surabaya Shenzhen Hong Kong CHINA UGANDA INDONESIA MALAYSIA GABON CÔTE D’IVOIRE VIETNAM THAILAND LAOS MYANMAR NIGERIA GHANA TANZANIA SIERRA LEONE LIBERIA CONGO INDIA PHILIPPINES NEPAL PAKISTAN TAIWAN MOZAMBIQUE KENYA ZIMBABWE CAMEROON INDIAN OCEAN ATLANTIC OCEAN ARCTIC OCEAN PACIFIC OCEAN ASIA AFRICA EUROPE Black-bellied pangolin Giant ground pangolin White-bellied pangolin Temminck’s ground pangolin Indian pangolin Chinese pangolin Sunda pangolin Philippine pangolin Pangolin sizes relative to one another Termite mound Imperiled Pangolins Pangolins—scaly, shy, and sensitive—are believed to be the world’s most trafficked nonhuman mammals. Their scales, which are made of keratin (the material in fingernails), have no scientifically proven curative properties but are in demand for use in traditional Chinese medicine. All eight species are threatened with extinction, despite a 2017 ban on international commercial trade, and experts estimate that more than a million pangolins were poached from 2000 through 2013. Temminck’s ground pangolin Smutsia temminckii This ground pangolin is the only species that regularly walks on hind legs, using its large tail as a counterbalance. This keeps its front claws sharp for digging. Black-bellied pangolin Phataginus tetradactyla The smallest of the eight species and the only one with black skin, this pangolin has 47 vertebrae in its tail, more than in the tail of any other mammal. AFRICAN SPECIES White-bellied pangolin Phataginus tricuspis The most common of the tree-dwelling pangolins—and the leading species poached in Africa—lives in tropical forests and dense woodlands. Giant ground pangolin Smutsia gigantea The largest pangolin can weigh over 75 pounds. Pangolins are toothless and use a sticky tongue— the giant’s stretches nearly two feet—to feast on termites. Europe has become an important transit hub for African pangolin scales trafficked to Asia. New poaching grounds Countries in Southeast Asia were once the main suppliers of pangolins to the Chinese market. Traffickers are now turning to Africa to meet demand as Asian pangolin populations plummet.