As part of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Network, the Pangolin Specialist Group follows the Species Conservation Cycle—Assess, Plan, Act, which is the conceptual framework for the SSC. Its main purpose is to guide efforts for valuing and conserving biodiversity through three essential components that are linked to each other.
Understand and inform the world about the status and trends of biodiversity.
Each species of pangolin has been assessed for the IUCN Red List, and their statuses are below.
Click on a species to read the IUCN Assessment.
Monitoring pangolin populations is important in order to inform local to international management and conservation efforts, and for evaluating conservation impact. Pangolins are heavily hunted and poached in Africa and Asia for their meat, scales, and other body parts, both for local use and international trafficking , and all eight species are threatened with extinction. An impediment to targeted and effective conservation action for the species is lack of knowledge of populations at sites and in areas where they occur.
© Helena Atkinson
This knowledge, including how many individuals exist within sites, and at the national and international level, would enable conservationists, protected area managers, practitioners, and researchers to better understand populations and the extent and impact of exploitation, and facilitate the identification and prioritisation of key sites for the conservation of each species. The need for population monitoring methods for pangolins has long been recognised (e.g., within CITES), and is captured in CITES Res. Conf. 17.10 on Conservation of and trade in pangolins, and in action plans developed for the species.
In 2017, the Pangolin Specialist Group initiated a body of work to advance the development of monitoring methods for pangolins. This entailed conducting two systematic literature reviews and holding an expert workshop to explore opportunities for monitoring the species and evaluate the potential of different monitoring approaches and sampling methods. Outputs from this work include a guidance document, which presents sampling methods with established, potential and theoretical application to the different species of pangolin and guidance on their implementation.
Click on the buttons below to download the relevant document.
Links to the two systematic literature reviews conducted to inform the workshop are also below. A related paper on the use of camera trap bycatch to monitor pangolins is also relevant and is accessible below.
N.B. The guidance documents in French and Portuguese include translation to these languages in Section 6 only.
Methods for monitoring populations of pangolins (Pholidota: Manidae)
IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group and IUCN Global Species Programme, 2018
Evaluating methods for detecting and monitoring pangolin (Pholidata: Manidae) populations
Willcox, et al., 2019
Evaluation of the application of methods used to detect and monitor selected mammalian taxa to pangolin monitoring
Ingram, et al., 2019
Pangolins in global camera trap data: Implications for ecological monitoring
Khwaja, et al., 2019
Develop collaborative, inclusive and science-based conservation strategies, plans and policies.
In 2014 the Pangolin Specialist Group launched a global conservation action plan, ‘Scaling up Pangolin Conservation’, which outlines actions that critically require implementation in order to conserve pangolins.
Click the image on the right to view our global action plan.
Additionally, a number of regional and national action plans have been developed in collaboration with our members and government representatives from relevant pangolin range states, local NGOs and other experts. A number of action plans have also been developed by governments agencies and their collaborators independently. The action plans are available to download by clicking on the buttons below.
We encourage and provide technical advice and support for the development of species-specific, national and regional conservation action plans. Please contact us if you would like our support.
Convene and mobilise conservation actions to improve the status of biodiversity.
The below map shows projects being undertaken by Pangolin Specialist Group members, categorised by project theme: ecology and conservation, rehabilitation and release, combating illegal trade, education and awareness-raising, and finally, projects that have multiple themes. Click on the pins to find out about each project. For more information about individual projects or to make a donation, follow the links in the pop-up boxes.
Alternatively, use the search function to explore the list of projects. Search by country, key word or organisation name.
Formation of new IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group
The Pangolin Specialist Group is re-established in recognition of the widespread threats to pangolins globally and the need to catalyse conservation action.
First Pangolin Specialist Group Conservation Conference
The Pangolin Specialist Group holds its first international conservation conference in Singapore. Over 45 experts from 15 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe and the US worked together to set the global conservation agenda for pangolins.
IUCN Red List Assessments show all eight pangolin species threatened
IUCN publishes Red List assessments drafted by the Pangolin Specialist Group at the first Conservation Conference in Singapore. Alarmingly, all eight species are now listed as threatened with extinction.
Scaling Up Pangolin Conservation’ action plan launched
The first ever global conservation action plan for pangolins synthesises recommendations from the first Pangolin Specialist Group Conservation Conference and sets out the critical actions that urgently need implementing to conserve pangolins.
Pangolin Specialist Group plays key role in First Pangolin Range States Meeting
Nine members of the Pangolin Specialist Group attended this first of its kind meeting and delivered technical presentations on the global conservation status of pangolins, threats, conservation, and management and trade.
Foundation Segre funded project
Swiss based foundation, Fondation Segré, launches The Fondation Segré Pangolin Conservation Initiative. Implemented by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), with support from Save Our Species (SOS), the project is tackling direct threats to pangolins at priority sites in Cameroon and Thailand and initiating research into demand for pangolin products in China.
IUCN quadrennium ends with a pangolin motion
At the IUCN World Conservation Congress which took place in Hawai’i, USA from 1-10 September 2016, IUCN’s membership adopted a motion calling for greater protection for all pangolin species. This motion calls on IUCN’s members to work to deliver multifaceted solutions to secure the conservation of pangolins. It also explicitly recognises the work of the PangolinSG in the last four years. Watch this video which highlights some of the work of our membership in the last four years.
Pangolins at CITES CoP17
Prior to and during the 17th Meeting of the Conference of Parties (CoP) to CITES (Johannesburg, 2016), IUCN Pangolin SG provided technical support to Parties and Observers to inform decision-making by Parties that ultimately resulted in the transfer of all pangolin species from Appendix II to Appendix I. This listing resulted in strengthened legal protection for pangolins and established an international trade ban for wild-caught pangolins traded for commercial purposes. Find out more about what this means for pangolins here.
Pangolin identification guide published
A pangolin identification guide was published by the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) to assist front-line law enforcement officers to confidently identify the different pangolin specie and their derivatives. The guide is freely available online in ten languages. A smartphone app was also developed in collaboration with the Pangolin Specialist Group, and can be downloaded here.
Singapore National Sunda Pangolin Strategy published
In September 2018, the first National Action Plan for the Sunda pangolin in Singapore was published. Developed by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), National Parks Board (NPB), IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group (PSG), IUCN SSC Asian Species Action Partnership (ASAP) and IUCN SSC Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG), the plan details five goals and corresponding actions required to achieve them. They including research into Sunda pangolin ecology, habitat protection, urban planning policies, rehabilitation and release of Sunda pangolins, and awareness raising. The strategy can be accessed here.
CITES maintains a focus on pangolins CoP18
Representatives from the Pangolin Specialist Group participated in the CITES CoP18 meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Pangolins were on the agenda following Decisions adopted at CoP17 and the CoP reaffirmed their commitment to protecting pangolins and reducing trafficking in the intersessional period to CoP19 by adopting further Decisions focused on illegal trade, amongst other conservation concerns. Further information on the Decisions passed can be found here. The Pangolin Specialist Group also held a side event on monitoring pangolin populations based on a body of work to develop suitable monitoring methods.
First ever regional conservation strategy for Sunda pangolin published
The first ever Regional Sunda pangolin Conservation Strategy was published in September 2019. The document is the result of a collaboration between the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group (PSG), the IUCN SSC Asian Species Action Partnership (ASAP), Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), and the IUCN SSC Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG). It outlines the objectives and actions necessary for Sunda pangolin conservation for the period 2018-2028. You can download the document here. More on the workshop to develop the strategy can be found here.
IUCN Red List assessments for pangolins updated
Updated assessments for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species for all eight pangolin species were published in December 2019. The updates confirmed that all pangolin species are still threatened with extinction. The 2019 assessments resulted in changes to the Red List categories for three pangolin species due to greater knowledge of the threat from overexploitation, including its inferred impact on populations, and habitat loss. Find out more here.
December 2021 – updated July 2022
Guidance for first responders on the short-term care of confiscated pangolins published
An IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group product, this document provides guidance to law enforcement personnel and others on how to care for live confiscated pangolins until they can be transferred to a suitable care facility or veterinarian. The most recent version of this guide can be accessed here.