For Immediate Release, December 10, 2019


Sarah Uhlemann, (206) 327-2344,

Pangolins Decline as Deadly Poaching Continues, Red List Experts Find

Status of Three Species of Scaly Mammal Have Worsened, None Improved

GLAND, Switzerland— Three pangolin species have moved closer to extinction, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared today in an update to its respected “Red List of Threatened Species.” The scaly mammals continue to be hard-hit by poaching that serves an international market for their scales and meat.

“Pangolins continue to get hammered by poaching and trade, and extinction is on the horizon for these adorably odd creatures,” said Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Trump administration is running out of time to give more pangolins protection under the Endangered Species Act. We need to ensure the U.S. market for any pangolin products is zero.”

In November the Center and other wildlife groups filed a notice of intent to sue the Trump administration for failing to propose pangolin protections under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Currently, only one pangolin — the Temminck’s ground pangolin from Africa — is protected under the Act.

The IUCN’s new assessment declared the statuses of three pangolin species had declined. Two African pangolin species, the while-bellied and the giant ground pangolin, moved from the “Vulnerable” category to the more imperiled “Endangered” category, due to a likely 50% decline in 21 years.

The third pangolin, the Philippine pangolin, moved from “Endangered” to “Critically Endangered,” due to anticipated declines of 80% in 21 years. The IUCN found that no pangolin species’ statuses had improved.

Pangolins are gravely threatened by poaching and trade for their scales, which are wrongly believed to have curative properties in China, as well as for their meat. While most of the demand is in Asia, a U.S. market remains. At least 26,000 imports of pangolin products were seized in the United States between 2004 and 2013, and a 2015 report by Humane Society International found “medicinal” products containing or likely to contain pangolin parts openly for sale online and at U.S. stores. Habitat loss also threatens the animals.

Long-tailed pangolin (M. tetradactyla) by Brett Hartl / Center for Biological Diversity. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.