As China upgrades pangolins to the highest protected status level, an alternative approach to using long standing forensic methods is helping wildlife crime investigators disrupt poachers and animal traffickers in an effort to bring them to justice.
A team of scientists and experienced investigators from the University of Portsmouth have joined the battle to stop the pangolin becoming extinct, by adapting forensic fingerprinting techniques that lift finger-marks from the scales of these endangered animals.
Up to 2.7 million pangolins are poached every year (African Wildlife Foundation, 2019) making these unusual animals the most illegally trafficked mammals in the world. Also known as a ‘scaly anteater, it has recently been linked to the spread of COVID-19 due to being on sale in wildlife markets in China. Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy in China and Vietnam, while its scales are used in traditional Asian medicine* and traditional African bush medicine. MORE
Header image: Tim Wacher.