Of the eight extant species of pangolin, the Indian Pangolin Manis crassicaudata and Chinese Pangolin M. pentadactyla occur in India. Indian Pangolin is a large anteater covered dorsally by 11-13 rows of scales. The adult male is about one-third larger than the female. A terminal scale is also present on the ventral side of the tail of the Indian Pangolin, which is absent in the Chinese Pangolin. Its sticky tongue, which is longer than its body, is specially adapted for reaching and lapping up insects in deep crevices. To tear open the anthills or termite mounds, it uses the powerful forelimbs that are armed with three disproportionately long claws. In sharp contrast, the hind legs have tough soles and short, blunt nails on the five toes.
Major threats to pangolins in India are hunting and poaching for local consumptive use (e.g. as a protein source and traditional medicine) and international trade, for its meat and scales in East and South East Asian countries, particularly China and Vietnam. There is now greater evidence of its inclusion in illicit international trade, in particular its scales, from both India and Pakistan, with Myanmar and China comprising the most likely, final destinations. Seizure reports from the country suggest that between 2009 and 2013, over 3,000 pangolins were hunted. Media reports state that during the period, approximately 5,000 kg of pangolin scales were confiscated in 25 seizures. Inadequate information on population and distribution further accentuates the threats arising from hunting and poaching.
TRAFFIC and WWF-India Initiatives
TRAFFIC is mapping pangolin trade hubs, conduits, transportation, high poaching areas and drivers in relation to poaching and illegal trafficking of pangolins. In February 2015, TRAFFIC, in partnership with WWF-India and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) launched a social media campaign to create awareness and divert efforts towards curbing illegal trade in pangolins.