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Tracking Pangolin Traffic Networks

Working at bushmeat markets in Africa, researchers are trying to trace the trade networks of the mammals.

The Scientist Staff
Aug 6, 2020

ABOVE: Temmincks ground pangolin (Manis temminckii)
© ISTOCK.COM, ECOPIC

Covered in distinctive armor of sharp, pinecone-like scales, pangolins look like reptiles, but they are mammals. Hunters track, kill, and sell the mammals for their scales, which are used in traditional medicines, and for their meat, sometimes served as a delicacy in Asia. As a result, pangolins are the most trafficked mammals in the world. All eight species are labeled critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

See “DNA Could Thwart Trade of the World’s Most Trafficked Mammal

Here, a scientist and his colleagues share photos from their work to mitigate the pangolin trade in Africa. Warning: Some of the images are graphic.

A white-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis) sold alive in Benin
Philippe Gaubert
A black-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla) sold at a bushmeat market in Cameroon
Flobert Njiokou
A black-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla) sold at a bushmeat market in Cameroon
Flobert Njiokou
A white-bellied pangolin in Benin
Philippe Gaubert


One night’s hunt in Cameroon: white-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis) together with a cusimance (Crossarchus platycephalus) and a dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis)
Philippe Gaubert
Processed carcass of a giant pangolin (Smutsia gigantea) sold at a bushmeat market in Cameroon
Flobert Njiokou
A white-bellied pangolin sold at a bushmeat market in Ghana
Philippe Gaubert

Read the full story.

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