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Last chance to prevent the extinction of the Chinese pangolin

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 November 2020

Yan Hua
Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Silviculture, Protection and Utilization, Guangdong Academy of Forestry, Guangzhou, China
Shichao Wei
Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Silviculture, Protection and Utilization, Guangdong Academy of Forestry, Guangzhou, China
Heng Bao
College of Wildlife and Natural Protected Areas, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin, Heilongjiang, China
Shibao Wu
College of Life Sciences, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China, and IUCN Species Survival Commission Pangolin Specialist Group, Zoological Society of London, London, UK E-mail


Conservation News
Oryx , Volume 54 , Issue 6 , November 2020 , pp. 760 - 761
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Fauna & Flora International.

The Chinese pangolin Manis pentadactyla occurs from Nepal eastwards and across southern China. It is believed to be one of the most heavily poached and trafficked mammals in Asia (Challender, 2011, Traffic Bulletin, 23, 92–93). The species is categorized as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, with a decline of more than 80% suspected over three generations because of hunting and poaching for local and international use, with extirpation of the species in some areas (Challender et al., 2019,

Public and government awareness of the need to protect the Chinese pangolin is improving, and the species has recently been receiving increased attention in both traditional and online media. In June 2020 the Chinese government upgraded all pangolins to the first-class level of protection for species in China, and removed them from the Chinese Pharmacopoeia. Six national parks have been established since 2014 to protect biodiversity cover 34,585 km2 of the pangolin's distribution range in China (China Green Times, 2019,

The Pangolin Conservation and Research Centre of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration was established in July 2020 by the Chinese government. It is responsible for rescuing injured or seized live pangolins, conservation biology research, and developing new breeding techniques for ex situ conservation and restoration of the species to the wild. In this context, staff of the Centre rescued a Chinese pangolin and released it into the wild in July (China Global Television Network, 2020,

Additional measures are required for the protection of all pangolin species in China, including environmental education, anti-poaching mechanisms, and a conservation action plan for the Chinese pangolin. Any action plan for the species will need to include improved habitat connectivity, reforestation (it is a forest specialist), and study of its biology and ecology, which are poorly known.