INDIA'S PANGOLIN BURIED IN ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE: Over 1200 were poached and trafficked from 2018–2022

Posted on 17 February 2023
Indian pangolin
© Chotu Khan


New Delhi: Pangolins, reported to be among the most trafficked wild mammals globally, are also targeted for illegal wildlife trade in India. The latest analysis of pangolin seizures in India by TRAFFIC and WWF-India for 2018-2022 found 1203 pangolins poached and trafficked for illicit wildlife trade in 342 seizure incidents.
TRAFFIC and WWF-India released findings compiled in a Factsheet titled "India's pangolin buried in illegal wildlife trade" ahead of World Pangolin Day on 18 February 2023. The communique highlights general information about the species, legal and conservation status, and the threat from illegal wildlife trade.
Dr Merwyn Fernandes, Coordinator of TRAFFIC's India Office, said, "India reports a significant number of pangolin trafficking incidents reflected by seizures across the country. They are poached mainly for international markets in China and Southeast Asia for their scales, which are used as an ingredient in traditional medicines and are believed to cure various ailments. Pangolin meat is also considered a delicacy and consumed for its alleged medicinal properties".

Twenty-four states and one Union Territory reported seizures of pangolins and their derivatives from 2018-2022 in India, according to the latest Factsheet. Odisha reported the highest number of seizure incidences involving the largest number of pangolins in the illegal wildlife trade (154 pangolins in 74 seizures). It was followed by Maharashtra (47 seizure incidents and 135 pangolins).
Seizure incidences included live pangolins and their derivatives, such as scales, carcasses, skins, claws, meat, bones and other body parts. About 50% of the seizure incidences included live pangolins, while more than 40% included pangolin scales.
Mr Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO, WWF-India, said, "India is home to two pangolin species, the Indian Pangolin and Chinese Pangolin, both of which continue to be found in illicit trade despite having legal protection. As reported in our latest Factsheet, the number of pangolin seizure incidents is a cause of concern for the survival of this elusive species, for which there is limited information on population status and distribution. There is an imperative need to focus on pangolins, strengthen their protection and conservation for their future survival."
The Factsheet stresses the need to address the demand for pangolins in consumer countries and strengthen enforcement actions to deter trade. These steps would play an essential role in safeguarding the future of the species in the wild and preserving the significant ecological role they play in their habitat.
Download TRAFFIC and WWF-India's Factsheet – India's pangolin in illegal wildlife trade!
For more information or queries, please contact Dilpreet B. Chhabra at or call her at +91 9899000472. You can also speak to Dr Merwyn Fernandes, Coordinator, TRAFFIC's India Office at +91 9820347492 or write to him at
World Pangolin Day is observed annually on the third Saturday in February; this year, it takes place on 18 February. The Day aims to celebrate pangolins and raise awareness about these unique mammals – and their plight.
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