Biodiv Sci ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (7): 910-917.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2020446

• Original Papers: Animal Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Distribution records and conservation status of Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) in China during 2010-2020

Yueqiao Kong1, Sheng Li1,*(), Baoquan Liu2, Jiajun Zhou2, Cheng Li3, Jianping Yu4   

  1. 1 School of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871
    2 Zhejiang Forest Resources Monitoring Center, Zhejiang Wetland and Wildlife Resources Monitoring Center, Hangzhou, 310020
    3 Xizijiang Conservation Center, Shenzhen, Guangdong 518114
    4 Qianjiangyuan National Park Administration, Kaihua, Zhejiang 324300
  • Received:2020-12-01 Accepted:2021-02-04 Online:2021-07-20 Published:2021-05-28
  • Contact: * Sheng Li E-mail:


Aims: China has the largest historical distribution area and wild population of Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla), which was once widespread, occurring in most provinces south of the Yangtze River in China. However, body parts of Chinese pangolin have been long considered as valuable materials of traditional Chinese medicine and there are also high demands for them as bush meat in the black market. Therefore, since the mid-20th century, wild pangolins in China have experienced dramatic range reduction and population decline due to high pressure of unsustainable, mostly illegal hunting. At present, Chinese pangolin has been recently uplisted as Class-I National Key Protected Wildlife in China and assessed as critically endangered (CR) in the IUCN Red List. As a widely distributed but elusive mammal species that inhabits in dense forests and is naturally at low density, Chinese pangolins are challenging wildlife for researchers to investigate. Therefore, there is an urgent need for researchers and conservationists to determine their distribution in the wild, which will provide fundamental bases for further research and conservation activities.
Methods: In this study, we conducted a comprehensive literature research on the occurrence records of Chinese pangolins between 2010 and 2020. We retrieved information from various sources on the time, location and type of record of each event, and generated the occurrence map and compared it with the historical range.
Results: Between 2010 and 2020, we identified 142 confirmed records of Chinese pangolins from 11 provincial administrative regions, mainly distributed in East China and Taiwan Island, with 67.6% of the occurrence sites were from three provinces (i.e., Taiwan, Zhejiang and Guangdong) across this region. When compared with its historical range, few field records were reported in Southwest and South China. However, during the past decade, the annual number of Chinese pangolins records has been gradually increasing, with 86% of found individuals being rescued, released on site or undisturbed.
Conclusions: These results indicated that wild populations of Chinese pangolin still persist in China, especially in East China and Taiwan Island. Public awareness of pangolin protection in recent years has been greatly improved. However, the existing surveys and data are insufficient to conduct comprehensive assessment of the status of pangolins in China, and there is an urgent need of field investigation, systematic monitoring and strengthened protection on these wild populations. The results of this study updated our knowledge on the distribution status of Chinese pangolins in China, and will provide essential baseline and information for future conservation planning and further study of this species.

Key words: Manis pentadactyla, range map, distribution range, camera-trapping, wildlife monitoring