Indian pangolin

Key Facts

  • Common Name

    Indian pangolin

  • Scientific Name

    Manis crassicaudata

  • Length

    Head and body : 60-70 cm

  • Weight

    9- 18 kg

  • Population

    Not Assessed

  • Status

    Listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and as Endangered on IUCN Red List.

© Rajesh kumar Mohapatra
Indian pangolin
© Rajesh kumar Mohapatra


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.

Conservation Issues

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.

Habitat and Distribution

The species is understood to occur in various types of tropical forests as well as open land, grasslands and degraded habitats, including in close proximity to villages. The species can adapt well to modified habitats, provided its ant and termite prey remains abundant. Indian Pangolin is widely distributed in India, except the arid region, high Himalayas and the North-East. It can be found at elevation up to 2500 m. The species also occurs in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
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