Humans and pangolins have a long and intertwined history in Africa and Asia, with the species having been used for subsistence, livelihood, medicinal, and cultural purposes. Populations of Asian pangolins have severely declined, and intercontinental trafficking of African pangolin scales to Asia has emerged in the last decade. Coastal countries in the Gulf of Guinea have been highlighted as hotspots of illegal pangolin trade, and in 2017, international commercial trade in pangolins was banned. We characterise the trade and international trafficking of African pangolins in the coastal countries around the Gulf of Guinea using data across three tiers. First, we investigated which countries were most heavily involved in international trafficking using seizure data. Second, we investigated where domestic seizures of pangolins took place, and whether they were seized with other species. Finally, we tracked the open sale of pangolins across 20-years at the main wild meat market in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, to investigate patterns of pangolin sales in a capital city. We found a total of 55893 kg of pangolin scales in 33 seizures between 2012 and 2018, with Cameroon and Nigeria being the most common export countries for international trafficking of pangolin scales. Cameroon had the largest number of domestic seizures (45); we also observed a shift from seizures of meat to scales from 2013 onwards. At the Malabo market a total of 11207 Phataginus pangolins and 366 Smutsia pangolins were sold between 1997 and 2017, and the number and price of pangolins increased over time for both genera and corresponded to a shift in the import of pangolins from Cameroon. Together, these results highlight the scale of trade and trafficking in pangolins within and from this region.
Peer-reviewed journal article
Angola | Benin | Cameroon | Congo | Côte d'Ivoire | Democratic Republic of the Congo | Equatorial Guinea | Gabon | Ghana | Liberia | Nigeria | Sao Tome and Principe | Togo