CITES Members Vote to Protect Pangolin

World Bans International Commercial Trade in All Eight Species of Pangolin

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — Countries have united to ban the international commercial trade in pangolins—the world’s most-trafficked mammal. Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) approved the strictest protections available under international law for all eight species of pangolin. The Parties voted to transfer pangolins from Appendix II to Appendix I at the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The move comes on the heels of a similar motion passed overwhelmingly earlier this month at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress, the world’s largest gathering of conservation leaders. The IUCN motion was originally submitted by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and 18 co-sponsors.

More than 1 million pangolins were poached for their meat and scales over the last decade. Pangolin scales are valued for their unproven medicinal benefits in some countries and meat is consumed as a delicacy. The small, scaled mammals are found in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Following is a statement from Elly Pepper, deputy director of NRDC’s wildlife trade initiative:

“The decision of the CITES Parties to ban the international commercial trade in pangolin parts will give the world’s most-trafficked mammal a fighting chance at survival.

“Pangolin scales are made of the same stuff as your fingernails; contrary to the beliefs of some, they hold no medicinal value. These vulnerable, elusive creatures must be protected immediately if we hope to reverse their astronomical declines of up to 90 percent. This listing will not only eradicate legal trade in pangolins, but will also reduce the illegal trade for which the U.S. is a significant destination and transshipment point.”


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.



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