Pangolin _ UPSC

Pangolin | UPSC


Pangolin scale seizures jumped 10 times between 2014 and 2018: UN report

      WHY IN NEWS:

Pangolins are the most trafficked wild mammals in the world,

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: IUCN : Conservation of Flora and Fauna


For PRELIMS go through Habitat , Ecology and do not forget the IUCN Status .

For MAINS it is important to know why pangolins are poached . Let us dive in !



Pangolins have, recently, been vilified because of reports that linked them to the emergence of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes the COVID-19 disease


Pangolins are the most trafficked wild mammals in the world, with the seizure of their scales increasing tenfold between 2014 and 2018, according to a recent United Nations report.

There has been a jump in pangolin seizures since 2014, said the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in its World Wildlife Crime Report, released July 10, 2020.

  • The Indian pangolin or thick-tailed pangolin is a solitary, shy, slow moving, nocturnal mammal,
  • Unlike other pangolin species, the Indian pangolin does not often climb trees.
  • Pangolins or scaly anteaters (order Pholidota, meaning ‘scaled animals’) are a group of unusual mammals with tough, protective keratin scales.
  • The taxonomic order which pangolins belong to, Pholidota, is one of the smallest of the placental mammals.
  • Four species are found in Africa and three in Southeast Asia.



Indian pangolins are found through parts of South Asia, from eastern Pakistan, India, southern Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.


  • The pangolins occur in tropical forests, as well as open land, grasslands and degraded habitat, including in close proximity to villages.
  • It is thought to adapt well to modified habitats, provided that its ant and termite prey remain abundant.
  • Pangolins feed on other invertebrates such as beetles and worms.


The number of pangolin scales legally imported went from almost nil to nearly 13 tonnes between 2013 and 2017.

  • MEAT : The meat and scales of pangolins are used for medicinal purposes in several parts of the world.
  • SCALES : Their scales reportedly promote blood circulation and increase lactation in pregnant women, while their meat is used as a tonic.
  • MEDICINES : The use of pangolin products in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a number of ailments is well known as well.


  • Loss and deterioration of habitat
  • Increase in the agrarian economy
  • improved irrigation and the use of pesticides .



  • Nineteen countries have declared pangolin scale stockpiles to the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Uganda act as transit countries and logistical hubs for pangolin and wildlife trafficking.
  • Nigeria was the primary point of export of pangolin shipments in 2019, while Vietnam emerged as the primary destination, the report pointed out.
  • The Chinese government seized 23 tonnes of pangolin scales in a series of operations across the country in October 2019.

China accounted for 99 per cent of the legal trade in pangolin scales.

  • Zoonotic diseases represent up to 75 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • COOPERATION : There is a need for stronger criminal justice systems and improved international cooperation along with cross-border investigations
  • ORGANISED CRIMES : Transnational organised crime networks reap the profits of wildlife crime, but it is the poor who pay the price.
  • LEGAL SUPORT : Conservation of these shy animals should be an international agenda with increase support from governments to adopt necessary legislation and develop inter-agency coordination to tackle wildlife crime offences.

     SOURCES:THE HINDU & PIB | Pangolin | UPSC

DISCOVER MORE : IUCN Flora and Fauna

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