Saving pangolins: Earth's most trafficked wild mammals

Pangolins, or ‘scaly anteaters’, are the most poached and trafficked wild mammals in the world. Experts estimate that a million pangolins have been removed from the wild over the past decade – more than elephants, rhinoceros and tigers combined. Yet pangolins have, until recently, been among the forgotten victims of the illegal wildlife trade.

The odds are seemingly stacked against pangolins. Demand for their meat and scales is threatening their continued survival in Asia and Africa, yet efforts to conserve them are hindered by a lack of knowledge about their ecology, distribution and population status, and a limited capacity to enforce the laws that protect the species.

Having previously been largely overlooked, pangolins are now receiving conservation attention from a variety of sources including Fondation Segré, which funded the first large-scale pangolin conservation initiative in 2015, and the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Pangolin Specialist Group, which provides technical support to those seeking to tip the scales back in favour of the pangolins.

This meeting explored the threats to pangolins and describe the multi-faceted process needed to prevent their extinction. The most effective approach includes: stopping the poaching, through strengthening legislation, anti-poaching tactics and law enforcement; eliminating the trafficking, through information gathering/sharing and building capacity for criminal investigation and prosecution; and removing the demand for pangolins, through behavioural-change strategies targeting key consumer groups.



​Dan Challender is a Conservation Scientist interested in conversation governance and wildlife trade and in particular, the conservation of pangolins. He holds a BA (Hons) in Business, an MSc in Conservation Biology, and a PhD in Biodiversity Management, which he completed at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) at the University of Kent, UK. Dan reformed and Co-Chairs the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group, and currently works as Programme Officer, Sustainable Use and Trade in the IUCN Global Species Programme, based in Cambridge, UK. 


Paul De Ornellas is the programme manager for Africa and Lead on illegal wildlife trade at ZSL. Following an early career as a veterinary surgeon in the UK, and field researcher in Indonesia Paul joined ZSL in 2010. During his time with the society he has worked on projects across the Africa programme with an emphasis on West and Central Africa. He has a major interest in species conservation in particular those species adversely affected by trade including Elephants, great apes, large carnivores and Pangolins. In 2014 he co-organised United for Wildlife symposium on Illegal Wildlife Trade, hosted at ZSL and since then has played  major role developing the IWT theme at ZSL; supporting in situ  wildlife protection and law enforcement in Africa and leading policy engagement at CITES for the society.


Sabri Zain is the Director of Policy for TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade programme of WWF and IUCN, and has 25 years’communications, campaign and policy experience in wildlife conservation. Sabri entered the conservation field when he joined WWF Malaysia as its Director of Communications in 1992. Eight years later, Sabri joined TRAFFIC International based in Cambridge. As TRAFFIC's Director of Policy, Sabri is responsible for leading the development, implementation and coordination of TRAFFIC's wildlife trade policy programmes and priorities, as well as leading its policy interventions at high-level events,  regional fora and major international conventions such as CITES. Sabri also coordinated TRAFFIC’s early work on demand reduction and consumer behaviour change, culminating in a paper on ‘Behaviour Change We Can Believe In: Towards A Global Demand Reduction Strategy for Tigers’ for the First Stocktaking Meeting of the Global Tiger Recovery Programme in 2012.

Download agenda and talk abstracts: PDF icon Agenda and abstracts - pangolins 21 Feb 2017 (522.4 KB)



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Image: Dan Challender