2020 Photo Contest, Nature, 2nd Prize

Pangolins in Crisis


Brent Stirton

Getty Images, for National Geographic

07 November, 2018

A sixth-generation traditional medicine doctor and his wife grind pangolin scales with herbs, in Duong Lam, Vietnam.

Pangolins are scaly-skinned mammals, and while sometimes mistaken for reptiles, they are more closely related to dogs and bears than anteaters or armadillos. They range through Asia and parts of Africa, and vary from the size of a domestic cat to over a meter long. They are solitary animals, meeting only to mate and produce a litter of one to three offspring, which are raised for around two years. Pangolin scales are highly prized in some parts of Asia for traditional medicine, and the meat is considered a delicacy. A 2017 report by Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network, states that pangolins are currently the most illegally traded animals in the world, with at least one million estimated to have been poached in the last ten years. All eight pangolin species are protected under national and international laws, and two are officially listed as critically endangered.

About the photographer

Brent Stirton

Brent Stirton is a special correspondent for Getty Images, and a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine as well as other international titles.  He speci...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

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