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Science  15 Mar 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6432, pp. 1142-1143
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6432.1142

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Pangolins face a bleak future as the world's most poached and trafficked animals. They are in demand for both their meat and their scales, believed in some Asian countries to have medicinal properties. All eight species—four living in Africa and four in Asia—are threatened with extinction, and the past 2 months have seen record-setting seizures of pangolin body parts. Several groups and government agencies are now intensifying conservation efforts, but it's an uphill battle. Pangolins are small, shy, and believed to be mostly nocturnal, so they don't attract tourist dollars, as large wildlife does. Patchy understanding of their population size, breeding behavior, migratory patterns, and physiology also hampers conservation efforts.

  • * Amy Yee is a journalist who reports from Africa and South Asia.