How many pangolins are left in the world


It is difficult to estimate the exact number of pangolins left in the world due to their elusive nature and the illegal trade of their meat and scales.

However, it is known that all eight species of pangolin are listed on the IUCN’s red list of threatened species and are prohibited from international commercial trade under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and (CITES) 

According to recent data from TRAFFIC, at least 23.5 tonnes of pangolins and their parts were trafficked in 2021 alone

The Chinese and Sunda pangolin species are currently listed as Critically Endangered due to high levels of hunting and a dramatic decrease in populations.

the primary methods used to estimate the current global pangolin population?

Researchers and conservationists use various methods to estimate the current global pangolin population.

Some of these methods are:

  • Mark-recapture: This method involves capturing and marking a sample of individuals in a population, releasing them back into the wild, and then recapturing a second sample at a later time.

    The proportion of marked individuals in the second sample can be used to estimate the total population size15.
  • Community interviews: This method involves interviewing local communities to gather information about pangolin sightings, hunting, and trade.

    This information can be used to estimate population density and distribution1.
  • Sign-based surveys: This method involves searching for signs of pangolins, such as burrows, tracks, and scat.

    The number of signs found can be used to estimate population density and distribution15.
  • Likelihood-based methods: This method involves using statistical models to estimate the probability of pangolin occupancy in a given area based on the presence or absence of signs or other indicators3.
  • Detection dogs: This method involves training dogs to detect pangolin scents and using them to search for pangolins in the wild or in trade5.

These methods have been used in various studies to estimate the population size and distribution of different pangolin species in different regions.

However, due to the elusive nature of pangolins and the illegal trade in their scales and meat, accurately estimating their global population remains a challenge.

significant variations in pangolin populations among different species?

There are eight species of pangolins, and their populations vary significantly among different species. 

The primary threat to most pangolin species is illegal hunting and poaching for local use and illicit international trade, which has resulted in steep declines in pangolin populations. 

For example, a study on Chinese pangolins found that their range decreased by 52.20% between the 1970s and early 2000s, and their population is now mainly restricted to small, isolated areas. 

The Malayan pangolin has a more than three times higher heterozygosity rate than the Chinese pangolin, which likely reflects the demographic impacts of a founder population and smaller effective population in the latter species. 

Interestingly, many gene families were unique to either Malayan pangolin or Chinese pangolin, confirming the high level of divergence within pangolins, likely resulting from evolutionary adaptations to different ecological environments. 

Overall, the populations of different pangolin species are threatened by illegal hunting and poaching, and conservation efforts are needed to protect them from further decline.

How recent conservation efforts contributed to stabilizing pangolin populations?

Conservation efforts have been implemented to stabilize pangolin populations, which are threatened by poaching and habitat loss.

Here are some ways conservation efforts have contributed to this goal:

  • Community-based conservation: The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is pioneering two community-managed pangolin conservation areas in Nepal to protect wild pangolin populations.

    They are working with the local community to help people achieve their career goals so that they don’t have to work in the illegal wildlife trade1.
  • Anti-poaching patrols: ZSL is also leading global pangolin conservation work through anti-poaching patrols1.
  • Strengthening field investigations: To rescue the critically endangered Chinese pangolin, it is suggested to strengthen field investigations, identify the exact distribution range and population density of Chinese pangolins, and optimize the network of nature reserves to improve conservation coverage on the landscape scale and alleviate human interference.

    Conservation practices that concentrate on the viability assessment of scattered populations could help to improve restoration strategies of the Chinese pangolin5.
  • Influencing attitudes towards wildlife: ZSL is influencing attitudes towards wildlife through their conservation zoos1.
  • Stopping the removal of pangolins from the wild: Save Pangolins emphasizes that conservation efforts must emphasize stopping the removal of pangolins from the wild3.
  • Scaling up conservation efforts: Wilderness Safaris envisions a world where all eight pangolin species are safe from extinction.

    To get there, they are scaling up pangolin conservation efforts in Africa2.

Overall, conservation efforts have been implemented to stabilize pangolin populations, and they involve community-based conservation, anti-poaching patrols, strengthening field investigations, influencing attitudes towards wildlife, stopping the removal of pangolins from the wild, and scaling up conservation efforts.

geographical regions where pangolin populations have shown signs of recovery or decline?

According to the search results, pangolin populations have declined dramatically due to overexploitation and habitat loss

1. Pangolins are found in both Africa and Asia, with four species living in each continent2. The African species are listed as vulnerable, while the Asian species are listed as critically endangered4

The Chinese pangolin population has undergone severe population decline, but the population in one region has shown signs of recovery due to successful conservation efforts53

However, the genetic diversity in this population is very low, and the risk of inbreeding will need to be addressed in the future3

Overall, pangolin populations are declining due to illegal trade, and all eight extant pangolin species are protected under national and international laws2.

insights into threats that continue to impact pangolin populations and hinder their recovery efforts?

Pangolins are under threat due to various factors, including:

  • Habitat loss: Pangolins are known as the guardians of the forest because they protect forests from termite destruction, maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

    However, their habitats are being destroyed due to deforestation and other human activities1.
  • Illegal hunting: Overharvesting is undoubtedly the most serious threat facing the pangolin.

    Pangolins have long been hunted in large numbers for their meat, scales, and other body parts, which are used in traditional medicine and as luxury goods23.
  • Trafficking: The trafficking of pangolins has been exacerbated by an increase in connectivity and ease of sharing content around the world.

    The trade in these elusive mammals is staggering, with more than 1 million pangolins trafficked over a ten-year period3.
  • Anthropogenic impacts: Other anthropogenic threats continue to impact pangolin populations, such as climate change, pollution, and habitat fragmentation45.

Efforts to prevent poaching of pangolins in China are gaining traction, such as public awareness campaigns and partnerships between conservation organizations and local communities1

However, more needs to be done to protect pangolins and their habitats to ensure their survival.