about save the pangolin

Pangolin scales are comprise keratin (chew on your fingernails instead), and have no medical benefit. However, they are in demand for use in traditional Chinese medicine. Pangolin meat is also consumed as a delicacy by a burgeoning middle class.

Pangolin Photos contributed by: Dr Vilma D’Rozario, Celine Low and Nick Baker. Poster design by Teresa Teo Guttensohn.

In 2009, Cicada Tree Eco-Place started the “Save the Pangolin” campaign to highlight the severe plight of the critically endangered mammal.

Download “Save the Pangolin” (2010) PDF eBook

In 2010, we were the first organisation in Singapore to rally the nature community and raise $40,000 in funds for pangolin conservation research in the hope of putting a stop to the illegal trade. A dinner was held at HortPark on 18th April, and after donations, table ticket and raffle ticket sales, raised the sum of S$41,000.

Contributions from the dinner were used to fund dedicated research on pangolin populations and trade surveys throughout South-East Asia. The information gathered served as a basis for advice to enforcement agencies and international bodies worldwide about the illegal pangolin trade.

Our first fundraiser: Save the Pangolin!

All thanks to generous donors, dinner guests and supporting partners, The Vertebrate Study Group (NSS); Nature’s Niche Pte Ltd., RMBR (NUS), SOTA, ACRES, and venue sponsor, HortPark. The conservation project was in support of TRAFFIC, the illegal wildlife trade monitoring network.

Pangolins, which are among the most trafficked wildlife in the world, are native to Singapore. The primary threat to pangolins locally is roadkill, not poaching. However, our status as a global trade hub means that wild animals may be trafficked through our ports.

There are eight species of pangolin and they are all facing extinction.

Four species are from Asia:
Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) – native to Singapore
Indian pangolin (Manis
Philippine pangolin (Manis
Chinese pangolin (Manis

Four species are from Africa:
Black-bellied pangolin (Phataginus
• White-bellied pangolin
(Phataginus tricuspis)
Giant Ground pangolin (Smutsia
• Temminck’s Ground pangolin
(Smutsia temminckii)

A Pangolin’s Plea
by Dr Leong Tzi Ming

My body’s armed with scales just like an ancient dragon
My claws are as sharp and strong as any eagle’s talon

My belly is pinkish and sparsely coated with hair
My young will be raised on milk and motherly care

When moving about, I walk on my knuckles
I can also climb trees with a tail full of muscles

Living without teeth, I’ll never visit the dentist
A regular diet of termites and ants is what I insist

My long sticky tongue will reach into their nest
This source of protein is one of nature’s best

I live a quiet life and do not emit any call
If threatened, I simply curl up into a ball

But somehow this self defence seems never enough
Just in case I’m cruelly captured and treated rough

By people who hunt me down for medicine or food
Or others hoping to boost their libido and mood

Please understand that I’m part of native biodiversity
l’ll be most grateful if you can protect me and my family

We’re trying to survive in our rainforest home
We just need our privacy and freedom to roam

Under the Wild Animals and Birds Act, it is illegal to remove wild animals like pangolins in Singapore. Those found in nature reserves are also protected by the Parks and Trees Act 2005. Furthermore, a total trade ban has been placed on wild pangolins under the Endangered Species (Import and Export; CITES) Act.

Singapore authorities have seized large shipments of pangolin scales bound for Asia as recently as 2019, highlighting the sheer scale of the problem.

how you can help

  • If you witness any illegal trading or poaching: Collect information. Take photos or video evidences of the traps, snares, nets, trapped animals, poachers, and/or their vehicle license plate number.
  • Call us at 1800 476 1600. Alternatively, you can contact the local police. For injured or stranded animals, please contact ACRES at +65 9783 7782.
  • Do not buy any pangolin products, such as meat, scales and medicinal products.
  • Raise awareness by sharing with your friends and family about the threats to pangolins, and what can they do to help.
  • Report your sightings, and contribute resources or media you have to various animal research and welfare groups to assist in research and conservation efforts.

Source: Learn More about Pangolins on NParks

the illegal trade threatens public health worldwide

The impact of COVID-19 on the world at large is unprecedented. Thousands of lives have been lost and the virus has wreaked havoc on the economy and global trade.

As at 28 March 2020, there were over 30,419 deaths across the world, with more expected in places far removed from the virus source.

There were over 1,700 deaths in the United States. In Italy alone, there were over 10,000 deaths on the same day, with the death toll overwhelming morgues. Spain lost 832 lives in 24 hours, adding to a death toll of 5690 — Madrid had to turn an ice skating rink into a morgue.

Pangolins are a suspected host for COVID-19 (also known as SARS-CoV-2), write scientists Lam, et al. (2020) in a report published in the prestigious “Nature” journal.

Their research — fast-tracked into publication in March to aid epidemiological research and the search for a vaccine or cure — identified cousins of COVID-19 or “SARS-CoV-2-related coronaviruses in Malayan pangolins (Manis javanica) seized in anti-smuggling operations in southern China”.

The researchers conclude: “pangolins should be considered as possible hosts in the emergence of novel coronaviruses and should be removed from wet markets to prevent zoonotic transmission“.

Although the findings were later disputed by Chinese scientists, the same Chinese team concluded that “Pangolin-CoV, was the second-closest relative of Sars-CoV-2 as the two viruses were 91.02 per cent identical”.

Whatever the origin of the virus, the World Bank writes that the illegal wildlife trade was likely the conduit through which COVID-19 carrying animals came into contact with humans.

How many more lives must be lost before we act?

Viruses and bacteria are spread because of human activities and we have seen this happen before.

In the case of COVID-19, human greed has exposed an otherwise elusive, nocturnal, burrowing, ant-eating animal into contact with humans — and other animals — with frightful consequences, say scientists. The New York Times reports:

We invade tropical forests and other wild landscapes, which harbor so many species of animals and plants — and within those creatures, so many unknown viruses. We cut the trees; we kill the animals or cage them and send them to markets. We disrupt ecosystems, and we shake viruses loose from their natural hosts. When that happens, they need a new host. Often, we are it.