Policy Recommendation Paper on the Pangolin Trade in China


Pangolins constitute one of the most illegally traded mammals on the planet. In China, the demand for pangolins as a source of luxurious food, medicinal value and other products has accelerated their decline in number. Species extinction constitutes one of the prime environmental crises of the world. Species extinction is a by-product of trading on endangered species, illegal poaching, and invasion of alien species amongst other factors (Heinrich et al., 2017). Species extinction negatively affects species diversity and abundance, and compromises the actualization of the concept of sustainable development; whereby global environmental resources including various biodiversity fail to meet the needs of present generations and future generations. This study intends to explore the illicit trading on pangolins in China, as one of the factors resulting to dramatic decrease of pangolins in China and the world at large. The study will harness secondary sources to assess the strategic framework China has put in place to counter the illegal trading on pangolins, and in the end this work will propose recommendations tailored to strengthen and improve areas of intervention.


Introduction to Chinese Pangolins

The Chinese pangolins have experienced unprecedented population decline over the past two decades, consequently leading to their reclassification on the IUCN Red List from Near Threatened Species to Critically Endangered species. As a result of pangolins’ low population densities and cryptic behaviour; the ecological data concerning Chinese Pangolins is scanty, which limits the efforts on ex situ and in situ conservation programs (Baker, 2014).

Based on the selective feeding habits of Chinese pangolins on a subset of social insects, the identification of special termite and ant species consumable by pangolins and prey may greatly assist in conservation pursuits. However, current data on dietary patterns for Chinese pangolins is shallow and inadequate; and the available data is based on indirect methods including inspection of food remains within foraging burrows. In addition, scanty information is available about pangolins’ ecology in secondary habitats and sub-urban and secondary forest habitats. Disturbed habitats also result into life history dynamics in wildlife demography including diet, which makes access to dietary information on Chines pangolins cumbersome (Nijman, 2010).

China has regulated the utilization of pangolin scales. Since the year 2007, pangolin scales are only allowed to be harnessed and synthesized for the purpose of clinical medicine in designated health facilities. Between 2008 and 2015, the total consumption of pangolins in China added up to the average weight of 26,600 kg. This amount is worrying and raises the concerns of the pangolins’ prospects as far as their sustainability is concerned (Zhang et al., 2015). This is despite there being a number of regulations governing the trading in endangered species; pangolins inclusive.

A Generalized Overview of Pangolin Trade in China

An assessment conducted in 2016 involved the study of Chinese physical and online markets to determine how trade in pangolins thrived. Concerning physical markets, 209 stalls selling animal products in 8 Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) wholesale markets were explored, 110 retail TCM stalls in 19 cities, 51 restaurants in 12 urban cities and 35, 220 stalls in 97 collectible market centres were studied in this discourse of identifying the trends in pangolin trading. Online websites were equally studied; 39 China-based e-commerce sites (Newton et al., 2018).

A study method similar to the one used by TRAFFIC in other wildlife products globally was utilized in these studies whereby surveyors impersonated potential buyers. TRAFFIC is the wildlife trade monitoring agency which is one of the prime non-governmental agencies working globally in conjunction with trade in wild animals and plants to actualize the prospects of conservation and sustainable development (Zhang et al., 2015). TRAFFIC is therefore a special wing of the IUCN AND WWF. No single pangolins were purchased in these tricks, but the particular product typology, price, source and quantity were recorded alongside other relevant information that would lead to logical conclusions. Such information included traders’ knowledge, awareness and attitudes about trading in Chinese pangolin; and perceptions about prevailing illegal or legal trading in pangolin and its related products.

In addition, the threshold at which China stands and the role it plays on international trade in pangolins was investigates. The legal basis of the trade in pangolin by China was also brought into the limelight of tangible conclusion. This was done through the analysis of CITES trade information on export and import of pangolins and their products from China since 2001 and 2014. The media tools played a pivotal role in securing information about pangolin seizures in China between 2007 and 2016. Existing literature was also unravelled alongside the consultations with the Chinese government officials for necessary information and approval (Nijman, Zhang and Shepherd, 2016).

The survey founded that the main products of concern from pangolins include raw scales, scale powder, processed scales and scale carvings. The study provided a vivid impression about the demand of pangolin and her products. In addition, the study confirmed that a good number of proponents of pangolins trade were acutely aware about the laws and illegality of the business. Only a few respondents especially those dealing with pangolins medicines accounted to where they extract their raw materials form; citing the origin to Africa, Myanmar and Vietnam (Newton et al., 2018).

Provided that China has illegalized the commercialization of pangolin scales in non-designated health centres since 2007, traders in TCM market centres have exhibited varied extents of understanding concerning the legality of trading in pangolin scales. Thirty four percent of the studied population described trading in pangolins as illegal and prohibited and a risky venture (Xu et al., 2016).

Concerning online trading in pangolins, the study acknowledged two major products transacted namely scales for medicinal value and carved scales. Mild quantities of pangolin meat and live pangolins were established for online transaction. Out of the 39 studied websites, the study identified 153 advertisements on pangolin scales, published by 94 traders on 6 websites in 2016. Eighty eight percent of these advertisements constituted of famous online retail platform (Yue, 2009).

Based on the Chinese history and tradition, pangolins are upheld as a vital source of food and medicine. Scales from pangolins when blended with other substances are used as traditional medicine which helps in the treatment of swelling, remove pus from wounded surface, stimulate lactation and promote efficient blood circulation. Besides, pangolin meat is domestically consumed as a luxurious food which symbolizes high social status and high sense hospitality, write Newton et al., (2018).

A rapid study of online and physical market concluded there is evidence on ongoing illicit trade in pangolin scales despite there being a reduced trend on market for pangolin meat in China. The eight species of pangolins are all found in Asia and Africa; and are citied by the International Union Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as endangered species. The bodies have advocated for the regulation of trade in pangolins with zero quota for the Asian species (Thapa, 2013). The indigenous Chinese pangolin is safeguarded as a national second-class protected species under the threshold of China’s Wild Animal Protection Law that decriminalize trade in pangolin mean. Despite the restrictions, an approximated number of a million pangolins are poached and illicitly traded worldwide in the last decade to meet the consumers’ needs especially in China.

Pangolins constitute the most trafficked mammal in the planet which therefore implies their population is threatened from the brink of extinction. Current legislative frameworks in China have failed to safeguard the pangolins from the chains of illegal poaching and trade; and Chin and Pantel (2018) observed the need for a complete international trade ban on pangolins to fill the loopholes existing for the propagation of trade.

Impacts of Illegal Trading in Pangolins in China and the Rest of the World

The negative implications, diversity and global magnitude of the illicit trade in wildlife and wildlife products are continually being cognized globally. The effects of illegal trade in wildlife on economies, societies and the ecological component have been conceived as prime issues under discussion in various conservation events. As a result, the international community, governments and agencies such as the UN Security Council, CITES, the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), INTERPOL, and the United Nations Economic and Social Council amongst other International Multilateral Environmental Agencies (Shapiro, 2016).

The United Nations Environmental Assembly Resolutions of 2014 declared Illegal Trade in Wildlife as a constitution of damage to natural ecosystems and rural livelihoods. The resolution further provided that illegal trading of wildlife species including pangolins undermined good governance and the rule of law, alongside paralyzing national security and sustainable consumption of ecological resources in a fair and equitable manner between the current and future generations. Challender, Nash and Waterman (2019) acknowledge that not all illegal trade comprises dramatic ecological impacts, and that dire impacts ascend from legal trades which are not sustainable.

Illegal Trading on pangolins breeds forth overexploitation in the context where some legal trade is allowed, on the premise that illegal off take may ensue alongside legal off take. In the realm of pangolins, their populations in the world is already endangered and threatened and there is a need to revise the legality of any trade transaction involving pangolins and their products. Based on the axiom that Illegal Trading on Wildlife is done outside the legal framework, there is normally no evaluation regarding its sustainability of the off tale or regarding the impacts on the environment. This error leads to continued degradation and deprivation of the environment off its richness in species diversity. Cheng, Xing and Bonebrake (2017) write that the social costs incurred in causing pangolins to become extinct may ascend beyond local communities in China as illegal trading in these animals can impede investments in socioeconomic development. Furthermore, illegal trading on pangolins has a negative influence on the rule of law because it impedes the countries’ and communities’ capacity to implement wider conservation and lifelong strategies and policies for conservation. Consequently, effective measures employable by the government may be highly expensive to governments.

Policy Recommendations

Species extinction is interwoven with myriad of negative atrocities such as loss of the environment’s authentic beauty, loss of species diversity and abundance, loss of capital in conservation measures, and disturbances in ecosystems which may lead to population outburst for lack of prey. The prospect of conservation and preservation of pangolins has not attained maximum attention in law as long as there is impartial legality in trading in pangolins for medicinal extractions (Cheng, Xing and Bonebrake, 2017). This study proposes the following recommendations in strengthening the conservation quests of pangolins from the brink of extinction, and for the purpose of actualizing sustainable development.

Legislation and enforcement

Among the various proposals outlined below, this study conceives the need for ordering a total ban in trading of all pangolins and her products, internationally. All global nations associated in trading pangolin should be invited to review and change accordingly the existing wildlife legislations, The International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) should implement laws geared to protect the eight species of pangolin from any form of trade. These laws should equally encompass full protection of pangolins inside and outside China. This will grant a stricter threshold for penalties against any stakeholder involved in any transaction touching on pangolins (Nash, Wong and Turvey, 2016).

Law enforcement agencies including wildlife departments, police and customs in countries such as Myanmar, Pakistan, Mexico, and other African countries which houses greater numbers of pangolins are invited to remain vigilant against the permeation and continuity of pangolin trade. Further, law enforcement agencies in countries cited as major pangolin traffickers should apply intelligence-led investigations to establish, and prosecute parties engaged in illegal trafficking of pangolins which violates national and international frameworks. Profiling through intelligence-led investigations ought to employ by transit, source and end-use destinations. The international network of illicit trading in pangolin is mobile with new trading patterns and routes arising annually. Due to this conception, enforcement strategies should also be dynamic and reactive to such technicalities (Shepherd et al., 2017).

Judiciaries and prosecutors in all pangolin range nations should develop in-depth mastery of laws and policies related to pangolin trafficking to develop solid ground for prosecuting culprits. Illicit trading in pangolins should be accommodated as wildlife crime to increase successful conviction rates and strong penalties applied to form fundamental deterrents, just as Zimbabwe has done.

Forensic techniques to locate the geneses of pangolins and their derivatives in trade ought to continually develop in favour of supporting law enforcement quests and investigations into the illegal trade chains. Nations making seizures ought to put in place a forensic DNA protocol ensuring pangolin products are seized and identifiable to species’ level.

Monitoring and Reporting

Monitoring and reporting on the prospects of pangolins trafficking should be done by NGOs, CITES and other relevant bodies in a more intense manner, and expanded to nations with scanty information on illegal wildlife trade. Elevated monitoring and reporting ought to be given preference in product commodities, roles played by countries and transport modalities applied in the transportation of pangolins (Kumar et al., 2017). Collaboration from transport and logistics companies in the dissemination of pangolins and her products is crucial and therefore the companies associated in transport should be inspired to share necessary information about trafficking methods, particular routes used, and other information deemed necessary in gauging the degrees of trafficking these animals.

CITES Management Authorities in conjunction with other enforcement agencies in nations associated with pangolin trading and trafficking should be encouraged to improve their capacities to report all aspects of seizures to CITES or any other relevant authority as per the yearly trade reporting demands (Shepherd, 2009). Contemporary changes in CITES reporting needs should be implemented in a standardized manner and data availed for the sake of statistical analysis and criminological studies to help law enforcers collect necessary data. Seizure report encompassing concrete accounts of action, seizure particulars and prosecution details are required for the purposes of analysing the intrigue of international illicit trade on pangolins and other wildlife.

Reduction of Demand for Pangolins and Environmental Awareness

More efforts should be inculcated in reducing the demand for pangolins and her by-products. These efforts can be engineered through environmental awareness on how pangolins can be conserved and the reasons why continued exploitation is deleterious to the environment and world at large (Mohapatra et al., 2016). Efforts should be directed at improving the analysis of the utilization of pangolin products being seized to attain particular demands in consumer nations. This will also grant more useful insights into the targeted trend in behavioural initiatives encouraging conservation.

Environmental education will foster awareness, and converse instrumental knowledge about the status of pangolins on the brink of extinction. The education will foster to the general public skills for combating their extinction, and relevant attitudes, and reorient behavioural patterns in favour of conservation.

Law enforcement entities especially in countries identified as proponents of these illicit transactions should ascertain all relevant officers are informed about the relative prevalence of illegal pangolin trade, and consequently take responsibility in recognizing pangolin products and also increase their alertness in identifying and detecting shipments (Katuwal et al., 2015).

Lastly, more systematic studies and research should be encouraged concerning conservation to bring to the limelight of truth the actual drivers of illegal trade on wildlife products. It is through the provision of such knowledge and empirical conclusions that more responsive policies can be enacted to curtail the business on pangolins. Furthermore, research will bring forth an understanding about the critical role played by non-Asian nations as centres of demand for international pangolin trafficking. In addition, research will identify the new trends in trafficking and form a basis of understanding the dynamic nature of trade in illegal wildlife which will further form a robust ground for the most responsive course of action (Thapa et al., 2014).


The research above digs into the prospects of pangolins as one of the most trafficked mammals on the planet. Owing to this illicit trade which is culminated by increase demand in its meat and by-products; pangolins have become critically endangered species, and have been recorded in the IUCN Red List. The reduction of pangolins deprives off the planet the beauty it deserves; thus, also inhibiting the actualization of sustainable development. Besides, the impacts of wildlife extinction and perilous such as causing turmoil to the natural ecosystems, loss of ecological diversity, compromising the sustainability of benefits accrued from extinct wildlife (meet and medicine in the context of pangolins), and costliness in eventual conservation and preservation measures. As discussed above, trading in pangolins is illegal in China except for cases in which the pangolins are intended to contribute to the provision of medicine in specialized health centres. Moving forth, this study maintains a need for decriminalizing any sort of trade in pangolins as a basis of adjudicating and prosecuting any proponent involved in trafficking. Monitoring and reporting of issues in addition, this study has recommended the need for strict enforcement of laws against illegal trading on wildlife. In addition, this study recommends a need for constant monitoring and reporting through collaborative efforts amongst all wildlife security agencies. There is equally a need to reduce the demand for pangolins through the creation of awareness. Awareness creation is a critical tool in re-orienting the public’s general perceptions on conservation; and will also disseminate knowledge and skills to actualize conservation.

Order Now


Baker, F., 2014. Assessing the Asian industry link in the intercontinental trade of African pangolins, Gabon (Doctoral dissertation, Department of Life Sciences, Silwood Park, Imperial College London).

Challender, D.W., Nash, H.C. and Waterman, C., 2019. Pangolins: Science, Society and Conservation. Academic Press.

Cheng, W., Xing, S. and Bonebrake, T.C., 2017. Recent pangolin seizures in China reveal priority areas for intervention. Conservation Letters, 10(6), pp.757-764.

Chin, S.Y. and Pantel, S., 2018, June. Pangolin capture and trade in Malaysia. In Workshop on Trade and Conservation of Pangolins Native to South and Southeast Asia (p. 143).

Heinrich, S., Wittman, T.A., Ross, J.V., Shepherd, C.R., Challender, D.W.S. and Cassey, P., 2017. The Global Trafficking of Pangolins: A comprehensive summary of seizures and trafficking routes from 2010–2015. TRAFFIC. Southeast Asia Regional Office, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia. https://www. traffic. org/publications/reports/the-global-trafficking-of-pangolins.

Katuwal, H.B., Neupane, K.R., Adhikari, D., Sharma, M. and Thapa, S., 2015. Pangolins in eastern Nepal: Trade and ethno-medicinal importance. Journal of Threatened Taxa, 7(9), pp.7563-7567.

Kumar, V.P., Rajpoot, A., Shukla, M., Kumar, D. and Goyal, S.P., 2016. Illegal trade of Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata): Genetic study from scales based on mitochondrial genes. Egyptian Journal of Forensic Sciences, 6(4), pp.524-533.

Mohapatra, R.K., Panda, S., Acharjyo, L.N., Nair, M.V. and Challender, D.W., 2016. A note on the illegal trade and use of pangolin body parts in India. Traffic Bulletin, 27(1), pp.33-40.

Nash, H.C., Wong, M.H. and Turvey, S.T., 2016. Using local ecological knowledge to determine status and threats of the Critically Endangered Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) in Hainan, China. Biological Conservation, 196, pp.189-195.

Newton, P., Van Thai, N., Roberton, S. and Bell, D., 2018. Pangolins in peril: using local hunters’ knowledge to conserve elusive species in Vietnam. Endangered Species Research, 6(1), pp.41-53.

Nijman, V., 2010. An overview of international wildlife trade from Southeast Asia. Biodiversity and conservation, 19(4), pp.1101-1114.

Nijman, V., Zhang, M.X. and Shepherd, C.R., 2016. Pangolin trade in the Mong La wildlife market and the role of Myanmar in the smuggling of pangolins into China. Global Ecology and Conservation, 5, pp.118-126.

Shapiro, J., 2016. China's environmental challenges. John Wiley & Sons.

Shepherd, C.R., Connelly, E., Hywood, L. and Cassey, P., 2017. Taking a stand against illegal wildlife trade: the Zimbabwean approach to pangolin conservation. Oryx, 51(2), pp.280-285.

Shepherd, C.R., 2009, June. Overview of pangolin trade in Southeast Asia. In Proceedings of the workshop on trade and conservation of pangolins native to South and Southeast Asia (Vol. 30, pp. 6-9).

Thapa, P., 2013. An overview of Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla): Its general biology, status, distribution and conservation threats in Nepal. The Initiation, 5, pp.164-170.

Thapa, P., Khatiwada, A.P., Nepali, S.C. and Paudel, S., 2014. Distribution and conservation status of Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) in Nangkholyang VDC, Taplejung, eastern Nepal. American Journal of Zoological Research, 2(1), pp.16-21.

Xu, L., Guan, J., Lau, W. and Xiao, Y., 2016. An overview of pangolin trade in China. TRAFFIC Briefing Paper.

Yue, Z., 2009, June. Conservation and trade control of pangolins in China. In Proceedings of the workshop on trade and conservation of pangolins native to South and Southeast Asia (Vol. 30).

Zhang, H., Miller, M.P., Yang, F., Chan, H.K., Gaubert, P., Ades, G. and Fischer, G.A., 2015. Molecular tracing of confiscated pangolin scales for conservation and illegal trade monitoring in Southeast Asia. Global Ecology and Conservation, 4, pp.414-422.

Google Review

What Makes Us Unique

  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • 100% Customer Satisfaction
  • No Privacy Violation
  • Quick Services
  • Subject Experts

Research Proposal Samples

It is observed that students take pressure to complete their assignments, so in that case, they seek help from Assignment Help, who provides the best and highest-quality Dissertation Help along with the Thesis Help. All the Assignment Help Samples available are accessible to the students quickly and at a minimal cost. You can place your order and experience amazing services.

DISCLAIMER : The assignment help samples available on website are for review and are representative of the exceptional work provided by our assignment writers. These samples are intended to highlight and demonstrate the high level of proficiency and expertise exhibited by our assignment writers in crafting quality assignments. Feel free to use our assignment samples as a guiding resource to enhance your learning.

Live Chat with Humans
Dissertation Help Writing Service