Pangolins are the world’s only true scaly mammals, and they are in dire need of research and urgent conservation action. Eight species occur in Africa and Asia, where they have been exploited locally for food and traditional medicines throughout history. This continues today, despite the species being legally protected in most range states. The main threat to pangolins, both in Asia and Africa, is poaching for international wildlife trafficking.
Since 2000 we estimate more than one million pangolins have been taken from the wild for international trafficking. Despite these levels of offtake, there is virtually no quantitative information on pangolin populations and only minimal information in pangolin ecology and basic biology. Pangolins are an importance to local communities as a protein source, their ecological role in tropical forest trophic webs, and their general charisma, yet they are likely the least known mammals in the world. Consequently, implicit in future monitoring efforts is the need to generate further knowledge on pangolins and their natural history.