Skin and Bones

Unravelling the Illegal and controversial industry that threatens global biodiversity.

Happy World Pangolin day! Let's see where this EDGE species is being hunted and smuggled.

The map above, produced by the Environmental Investigation Agency, (and i'm a little bias towards as I personally had a hand in generating it) details pangolin poaching and seizure incidents spanning the last 15 years, since CITES placed a zero export quota on Asian species. 

'Intended as a regularly updated resource for use by anybody working in pangolin conservation (as well as for general interest) it is based on a subset of poaching and seizure incidents from 2000-15, derived from publicly available records, from primarily English and Chinese language sources.'- EIA 

The interactive data source highlights smuggling hot spots, where enforcement efforts are perhaps weak and increased detection can be concentrated. However, it is also an indication of the gaps in reporting. Known trade exists between range states but is not being represented in the media, prompting the question 'is wildlife crime being taken as a serious offence?'  

As the data suggests increases of illegal pangolin trade since 2008, this map also demonstrates the poaching shifts from Asia to Africa.  Notably poaching in Zimbabwe and Uganda, who's Wildlife Authority was unsuccessfully sued in February 2015 by environmental lobby group Greenwatch, after permitting to export 7'310 kg of pangolin scales despite an expired license.

From this great new visual representation of the data, given the fact that roughly only 10% to 20% of wildlife trade is intercepted, true poaching numbers are staggering.  The latest updated pangolin data is available from EIA, and could be used to estimate total  figures. But, Annamiticus has already got us part way there estimating that 105,410 — 210,820 individual pangolins were plundered from the wild in just under 3 years (2011-2013). Considering that pangolins only mate once a year producing a single offspring, it's clear to see how poaching and consumer demand is the number one cause of population declines.  

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