Illegal trade in pangolins keeps growing as criminal networks expand
Smuggling networks that once focused on ivory are increasingly turning to pangolins.
Pangolins have long provided meat and traditional medicine for people in Africa and Asia. Recently, though, demand for pangolin scales—used mainly in China and Vietnam for a variety of ailments—has grown to the point that geographic boundaries are blurring. Vast quantities of them are now being smuggled from Africa to Asia, despite an international trade ban on all eight pangolin species that went into effect in 2017. A new report confirms that this illegal trade is only growing—and that organized international criminal networks that previously dealt predominantly with African elephant ivory are increasingly turning to pangolins.
“The level at which pangolins are being trafficked is huge compared to what it has been in the past,” says Sarah Stoner, director