Prosecution records reveal pangolin trading networks in China, 2014-2019.
Huang X-Q., Newman C., Buesching CD., Shao M-L., Ye Y-C., Liu S., Macdonald DW., Zhou Z-M.
In a precautionary response to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, China's Ministries permanently banned eating and trading in terrestrial wild (non-livestock) animals on 24 February 2020, and extensively updated the list of Fauna under Special State Protection (LFSSP) in 2020 and 2021, in which pangolins (Manidae spp.) were upgraded to the highest protection level. Examining 509 pangolin prosecution records from China Judgements online prior to these changes (01/01/14-31/12/19), we identified that Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan Provinces were hotspots for trade in whole pangolins and their scales. Interrupting trade in these three principal southern provinces would substantially fragment the pangolin trade network and reduce supply of imports from other south-east Asian countries. In the context of the revised legislation and strategies intended to prevent wildlife trade, we conclude that targeting interventions at key trade nodes could significantly reduce illegal trade in pangolins, and that this approach could also be effective with other taxa.