Pangolin scales: 5 endangered species being smuggled in black markets

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We share a world with a number of wonderful creatures, and some of their body parts are useful to humans, such as the Pangolin scales.

Sadly, most of these creatures have been tagged as endangered species and are approaching the risk of extinction. They are endangered because people hunt and kill them for various reasons, faster than they can reproduce.

To create awareness of these species, an Endangered Species Day was started in 2006. The Day is celebrated each year to raise awareness about the planet’s declining wildlife species.

In this article, we will be discussing 5 endangered species that are being smuggled on black markets.



The pangolin is one wildlife on the brink of extinction in Africa. This is because people relentlessly hunt them for their scales, which they believe has ‘medicinal values.’ So, while the scales are being used for health purposes, the meat is used for food.

Pangolins are killed in their numbers and sold on the black market for up to $3,000.00 per kilogram.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the pangolin has eight species, and they are all Vulnerable to being Critically Endangered.

Four species of pangolin live in Africa: Black-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla), White-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis), Giant Ground pangolin (Smutsia gigantea) and Temminck’s Ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii).

The other four species of pangolin live in Asia. For many years, the Asian species were the primary target for poachers. However, when their numbers significantly decreased, traffickers started turning to the species of pangolins in Africa.

On Monday, 4 October 2021, DC Joseph Attah, National Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), disclosed to journalists that the NCS had intercepted 15 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 1,014.5kg with a value of over N1.7 billion.

The authorities added that they acted on credible intelligence provided by their international partners and made wildlife seizures worth over N22 billion two months before, with the arrested suspects currently facing prosecution.

While making further investigation to arrest other members of the gang, they received another credible intelligence from the same international partner, Wildlife Justice Commission, and swiftly deployed their intelligence operatives with the Strike Force as a SWAT team.

And according to Joseph Attah, two suspects — Salif Sanwidi and Sunday Ebenyi — were arrested at the interception of “one Mercedes Benz Bus with registration number BGT 256 LG along Kudirat Abiola Way Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos.”

“Nigeria is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. As responsible members of the global community, we cannot allow our nation to be used as a conduit pipe for illegal trade on wildlife.

“We remain committed to the quarterly meeting with embassies of US, UK and Germany and welcome on board other International organizations that are joining the fray,” he said.

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African Wild Dog

Endangered Wild Dogs Rely on Diverse Habitat to Survive Around Lions | Science | Smithsonian Magazine

African wild dogThe African wild dog also makes the list of the world’s most endangered mammals.

According to history, farmers have shot and poisoned African wild dogs mainly because they blame the dogs for hunting their livestock.

Aside from being killed by farmers, the overall African wild dog population declines due to habitat loss caused by deforestation and human developments.

Ethiopian Wolves

Endangered species
Ethiopian Wolves

Ethiopian wolves, just like the name suggests, is endemic to Ethiopia. And just like the African wild dog, humans are their biggest problem.

The largest population of Ethiopian wolves can be found in the Bale Mountains. At present, roughly only 120 – 160 wolves are remaining.

Humans are the most significant threat to the Ethiopian wolves due to farming and overgrazing, which overtakes large portions of their habitat.

Another significant threat that earned them the endangered African animal status is related to disease— they carry diseases such as consecutive epizootics of rabies and canine distemper, particularly in the Bale Mountains.

Black Rhino

Endangered species
Black Rhino

The black rhino is deemed Critically Endangered by the IUCU because between the years 1960 and 1995; rhino populations were said to have dropped by a staggering 98%. This decrease is due to illegal rhino poaching, which has taken some of the species of Black Rhino to the brink of extinction.

The Black Rhino has five species, and three out of them are part of the most endangered species in the world. Their major threats are dangerous poachers and illegal hunters who kill these animals for their horns.

And like the Pangolin scales, the Black Rhino horn is used in traditional medicine. It is also seen as a symbol of status, wealth and success.

For this reason, their horns are in high demand. As a response to this crisis, there are extensive conservation efforts across Africa to protect the rhinos and increase their populations.


Endangered species

The addax is a critically endangered species of antelope that can be found in Niger and Chad. It is almost the rarest hoofed animal in the world, due to the high rate of poaching that has led it close to extinction.

One of their biggest threats are humans, such as local hunters who hunt them without proper supervision and their nature makes them easy preys. The addax is a slow-moving animal and therefore become easy targets for hunters in vehicles with modern weapons.

Other threats are natural factors such as droughts and desertification.

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