Number Of pangolins That Are left in the world

|

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, all eight species of pangolins are threatened with extinction.

The Chinese and Sunda pangolin species are currently listed as Critically Endangered, while the Indian and Philippine pangolins are listed as Endangered

The African white-bellied pangolin, Cape/Temminck’s ground pangolin, black-bellied pangolin, and giant ground pangolin are listed as Vulnerable

The population of pangolins is believed to be in decline due to the demand for pangolin meat and scales, and the massive seizures of pangolin scales that occurred in 2019 and 2020

An estimated 1 million pangolins were trafficked in the last ten years, though this number may be conservative given the volume of recent pangolin scale seizures. Up to 200,000 pangolins are estimated to be taken from the wild every year across Africa and Asia.

 The fight to stop pangolin extinction is ongoing, and conservation efforts include habitat protection, anti-trafficking efforts, reducing demand, and conservation education

Researchers and conservationists are working to map the current distribution and range of pangolins, estimate population sizes, and research their behavior and ecology to identify ways to ensure their survival

Pangolins are secretive, solitary, and mostly nocturnal, making it difficult to estimate wild population sizes.

related

Pangolin Population Estimates

According to recent estimates, at least 895,000 pangolins were trafficked globally between 2000 and 2019. The primary threat to most pangolin species is illegal hunting and poaching for local use and illicit international trade

Recent estimates suggest that at least 400,000 pangolins are hunted and consumed locally in Central Africa each year

The situation has worsened despite protections, and in 2019, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared that the status of three of the eight pangolin species has worsened in its update to the Red List of Threatened Species

Two African pangolin species, the white-bellied and the giant ground pangolin, moved from the “Vulnerable” to “Endangered” category alongside the Indian pangolin, while the Philippine pangolin moved from “Endangered” to “Critically Endangered,” joining the Sunda and Chinese pangolins.

It is difficult to estimate wild population sizes of pangolins, but given the demand for pangolin meat and scales, and the massive trafficking of pangolins, their populations are declining rapidly

The critically endangered Sunda pangolin has been particularly hard hit and is haemorrhaging numbers throughout its range in Southeast Asia. Little is known about this elusive creature, and we don’t know how many pangolins are left in the wild.

There are eight species of pangolins, four are found in Africa and four in Asia, and all are under threat and now protected

The estimated number of pangolins trafficked in the last ten years is one million, though this number may be conservative given the volume of recent pangolin scale seizures

Factors contributing to the decline of pangolin populations include illegal hunting and poaching, habitat loss, and the use of pangolin scales in traditional medicine.

related

Threats to Pangolin Populations

Pangolins face several threats that are affecting their populations.

The primary threats to pangolin populations include poaching, habitat loss, and illegal wildlife trade.

Poaching and illegal trade are the most severe threats affecting all eight subspecies of pangolins

Pangolins are targeted for their scales, which are used in traditional medicine in Africa and Asia, and their meat is also eaten by locals in Africa and as a delicacy in parts of Asia

The demand for pangolin products from the Far East, particularly China and Vietnam, is driving the poaching and illegal trade of pangolins. Habitat loss is another significant threat to pangolin populations.

When humans clear land for agricultural, residential, or transportation purposes, it’s hard for pangolins to thrive, as their food source is wiped out by insect control

Some pangolin habitats are disturbed by mining, quarrying, oil drilling, and other types of human activity. The decline in pangolin populations is a worrying sign for the future, and all eight species of pangolins have a decreasing population trend.

related

Conservation Efforts

There are several conservation initiatives and programs aimed at protecting pangolins, but their effectiveness in stabilizing or increasing pangolin populations is still uncertain.

Some of the conservation efforts include:

  1. Demand Reduction: Decreasing demand for pangolin scales and meat through targeted campaigns to consumers and building relationships with government policymakers.
  2. Enforcement: Strengthening agencies that are protecting pangolins and their habitat such as anti-poaching units, aiding customs, and protected area management.
  3. Combating Trafficking: Reducing the illegal trade of pangolins at national, regional, and global levels.

    Includes judicial reform and anti-trafficking tools and requires creating close alliances with domestic and international law enforcement and policymakers.
  4. Public Education/Awareness: Raising the profile of pangolins as a first step towards changing behavior and encouraging conservation support.
  5. Community Engagement: Working with local communities living adjacent to pangolin habitat so they see pangolins as something worth more alive than poached.
  6. Conservation Planning: Given the major gaps in knowledge about pangolins, research is needed to understand their ecology and behavior so that we can identify ways to ensure their survival.

Conservationists and scientists are working to map the current distribution and range of pangolins, estimate population sizes, and research their behavior and ecology.

 Training rangers and wildlife authorities, developing rescue and rehabilitation centers, and educating the public about pangolins are also part of the conservation efforts

Some rescue centers are constantly seizing live pangolins from illegal traders, so it’s key to develop ways pangolins can be treated and rehabilitated in captivity so that they can be returned to their native habitats.

Despite these efforts, the decline in pangolin populations is still a worrying sign for the future, and all eight species of pangolins have a decreasing population trend

It is difficult to measure the effectiveness of these conservation efforts, but they are essential to ensure the survival of pangolins in the wild.

related

Regional Variations

Pangolin populations vary across regions, and some areas have more abundant populations than others.

Here are some regional variations in pangolin populations:

  1. Asia: Four species of pangolins are found in Asia, and they are more abundant in some areas than others.

    For example, the Indian pangolin is found in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, while the Chinese pangolin is found in China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. The Sunda pangolin is found in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, while the Philippine pangolin is found in the Philippines. The demand for pangolin products in Asia is driving the poaching and illegal trade of pangolins.
  2. Africa: Four species of pangolins are found in Africa, and they are more abundant in some areas than others.

    For example, the white-bellied pangolin is found in West and Central Africa, while the giant ground pangolin is found in Central and West Africa. The black-bellied pangolin is found in West and Central Africa, while Temminck’s ground pangolin is found in Southern Africa. Recent estimates suggest that at least 400,000 pangolins are hunted and consumed locally in Central Africa each year.
  3. Environmental Factors: Environmental factors such as habitat type, food availability, and climate can affect pangolin populations.

    For example, pangolins are adapted to live in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and savannas. The availability of food sources such as ants and termites is also essential for pangolin survival. Some pangolin habitats are disturbed by mining, quarrying, oil drilling, and other types of human activity.

Moreover, pangolin populations vary across regions, and some areas have more abundant populations than others.

Environmental factors such as habitat type, food availability, and climate can affect pangolin populations.

Monitoring and Data Collection

Researchers and conservationists use various methods and technologies to monitor pangolin populations.

Here are some of the methods and technologies used for monitoring pangolins:

  1. Camera Traps: Occupancy sampling using camera traps could be used to monitor some pangolin populations, particularly ground-dwelling species. Camera traps are placed in areas where pangolins are known to live, and they capture images of the animals as they move through the area.
  2. Acoustic Monitoring: Acoustic monitoring involves recording the sounds made by pangolins and using these sounds to estimate population size and distribution. This method is particularly useful for arboreal pangolins, which are difficult to observe directly.
  3. Radio-Telemetry: Radio-telemetry involves attaching a small radio transmitter to a pangolin and tracking its movements using a receiver. This method is useful for studying the behavior and ecology of pangolins, but it is time-consuming and requires a lot of resources.
  4. Intelligent Video System: An intelligent video system has been deployed to protect pangolins in some areas. This system allows for smart, information-based, and real-time monitoring of pangolins, relieving researchers from patrolling.
  5. Operation Pangolin: Operation Pangolin is a global initiative aimed at saving the world’s most trafficked wild mammal. The initiative will help develop pangolin-specific monitoring methods and interventions to prevent illegal offtake and trafficking of the animals.

However, researchers and conservationists use various methods and technologies to monitor pangolin populations, including camera traps, acoustic monitoring, radio-telemetry, and intelligent video systems.

The Operation Pangolin initiative is also working to develop pangolin-specific monitoring methods and interventions to prevent illegal offtake and trafficking of the animals.

Captive Breeding Programs

Captive breeding programs have become an important tool in pangolin conservation efforts.

Here are some of the findings on the role of captive breeding programs in pangolin conservation:

  1. Successful Breeding: Some captive breeding programs have been successful in breeding pangolins in captivity.

    For example, a recent study reported the first successful captive breeding program for the critically endangered Malayan pangolin between 2016 and 2020.
  2. Genetic Diversity: Captive breeding programs can help ensure genetic diversity in pangolin populations.

    By breeding pangolins in captivity, researchers can control which individuals mate, which can help prevent inbreeding and maintain genetic diversity.
  3. Research: Captive breeding programs can also provide researchers with an opportunity to study pangolin behavior and health under controlled conditions. This research can help improve our understanding of pangolins and inform conservation efforts.
  4. Public Education: Zoos and other facilities that participate in captive breeding programs can also educate the public about pangolins and their endangered status, which can help raise awareness and improve conservation funding.

While some captive breeding programs have been successful, there are still challenges to overcome.

For example, pangolins are difficult to breed in captivity, and many facilities have limited resources and few animals to work with.

 Additionally, there are concerns about the ethics of keeping pangolins in captivity, and some conservationists argue that resources should be focused on protecting pangolins in the wild.

Captive breeding programs have become an important tool in pangolin conservation efforts.

While some programs have been successful in breeding pangolins in captivity and ensuring genetic diversity, there are still challenges to overcome, and some conservationists have raised concerns about the ethics of keeping pangolins in captivity.

Future Projections

The future of pangolin populations is uncertain, and there are several projections and actions that can be taken to prevent further declines.

Here are some of the findings on the future of pangolin populations:

  1. Habitat Restoration: The Chinese government plans to bring back pangolin populations with habitat restoration. This could help increase the number of pangolins in the wild and prevent further declines.
  2. Commercial Pangolin Farming: Commercial pangolin farming plans are recommended to be suspended to prevent further declines in pangolin populations.
  3. Conservation Efforts: Conservation efforts such as monitoring pangolin populations, understanding the social-ecological systems in which pangolins are harvested, used, and traded, and preventing the illegal harvesting and trafficking of pangolins can help prevent further declines in pangolin populations.
  4. Zero Quotas: Zero quotas may have contributed to the decline in the skin trade, but despite population depletion, sourcing from South-East Asia.
  5. Operation Pangolin: Operation Pangolin is a global initiative aimed at saving the world’s most trafficked wild mammal. The initiative will help develop pangolin-specific monitoring methods and interventions to prevent illegal offtake and trafficking of the animals. The project has the potential to transform pangolin conservation, first in key locations in Central Africa, and then extending into parts of Asia.

In conclusion, the future of pangolin populations is uncertain, but habitat restoration, suspension of commercial pangolin farming plans, conservation efforts, zero quotas, and Operation Pangolin are some of the actions that can be taken to prevent further declines in pangolin populations.

Helpful Resources