the world's most trafficked animals

1. The Pangolin

Approximately every eight minutes a pangolin is caught in the wild. The animal is a delicatesse in Vietnam and China and also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Its scales are said to heal a lot of things, from wounds to cancer. In fact they simply consist of keratin like our fingernails and have no scientifically proven effect. Nevertheless the pangolin is the world’s most trafficked mammal.

2. The Tiger

No matter if from the wild or a tiger farm; these majestic animals are highly coveted. Their teeth are turned into jewellery, body parts into medicine and their bones are used for tiger wine. Even wihtout any scientifically proven healing effects, tigers are traded illegally especially in the Golden Triangle.

3. The Rhino

As a status symbol, anti-hangover-cure or to heal cancer. Especially in China and Vietnam the rhino's horn is extremely popular leading to falling numbers in Africa. However, just like the pangolin's scales it simply consists of keratin.

4. The Elephant

Up to this day ivory is in high demand – in Asia, Europe or the USA. Every year around 20.000 elephants die so that their tusks can be turned into jewellery, carvings or decoration.

5. The Serow

Serows are goat-like animals and endemic to Asian countries. They are also supposed to have healing powers leading to their horns, skulls, heads and gallbladders being traded.

6. The Helmeted Hornbill

Red ivory. This is what the casque of this hornbill is called and there's a reason for that name: it is regarded to be a great substitute for ivory and therefore used for carvings and decoration objects especially popular in China.

7. The Gaur

The Gaur from South and Southeast Asia is the biggest bovine in the world and impresses with its unique horns. They are so beautiful that some people want to have them hanging at their walls as decoration.

How can all of this be ended?


You have to get to the root of the problem. Most of these animals come from poorer countries and wildlife trade is a lucrative business for many people. On top of that there is corruption as well as mild sentences; the latter makes many of them continue. Approaches to solve this problem would be the fight against poverty and corruption, higher sentences and alternative sources of income. Raising awareness plays a crucial role as well since many simply don't know about the lack of healing powers or the way these animal parts are sourced. Organisations like the WWF have tirelessly been committed to ending wildlife trafficking and Corona has put the trade into the spotlight. Many are realising: wildlife trade needs to stop and this insight is a first step in the right direction.

© 2020 by Anna Rothärmel