Biodiv Sci ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (10): 23079.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2023079

• Original Papers: Animal Diversity •     Next Articles

The illegal trade network of pangolin meat in Chinese mainland and its implications for the implementation of key interventions

Fuhua Zhang, Fei Xi, Xinrui Tang, Peng Cen, Shibao Wu()   

  1. School of Life Sciences, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631
  • Received:2023-03-19 Accepted:2023-08-23 Online:2023-10-20 Published:2023-09-18
  • Contact: *E-mail:


Background & Aim: China is one of the main consumption areas of pangolin (Manis spp.) meat and scales. In order to promote the conservation of this taxonomic group, differentiated and precise protection measures based on the illegal trade and consumption characteristics of various pangolin products are essential. However, there is a lack of research on the illegal trade and consumption characteristics of pangolin meat or scales separately.

Methods: This study uses the key word “pangolin” to compile the illegal trade cases of pangolin meat reported on the China Judgements Online and network media before January 11, 2022. We then use these reports to assess the characteristics of the region, trade network and trade methods.

Results: We found that pangolin meat trade and consumption mainly occured in southern China. This meat was mainly imported from Southeast Asia, though a small amount may come from seized area in China. The primary land access points for illegal pangolin meat trade into Chinese mainland are Fangchenggang, Baoshan and Dehong, while ports and small wharves in Guangdong and Fujian are the main sea access areas. Fangchenggang, Guangzhou, and Kunming are the key cities in the illegal pangolin trade network in Chinese mainland. The validity of these results may be affected by the incomplete inclusion of corresponding cases on the judicial documents website before 2013 and biases present the older reported cases on the internet.

Suggestions: Based on the results presented here, we suggest enhancing the inspection of border ports in Guangxi and Yunnan and wharves in Guangdong and Fujian, China. Measures such as improving the outbound vehicle inspection rate in Fangchenggang, Guangzhou, Baoshan, and Dehong and adopting differentiated public education on pangolin protection in Southern and Northern China. While it is important to continue to call on Southeast Asian countries to strengthen wildlife protection legislation, law enforcement and public education measures are considered effective additional means of curbing the illegal trade and consumption of pangolin meat in China.

Key words: illegal trade, pangolin meat, smuggling, animal protection, Chinese mainland