Meet the pangolin, the most poached mammal in the world

As the congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources gets underway Thursday in Hawaii, environmental policymakers and conservation experts will discuss managing the environment, protecting wildlife and how best to chart the direction of conservation efforts. High on the agenda and among the most anticipated species up for discussion is the pangolin. A largely unknown creature, the pangolin holds the undesirable title of being the most-poached and illegally trafficked mammal in the world. Scientists estimate that more than 1 million have been killed in the last decade. They are burrowing mammals covered in protective overlapping scales made of keratin, the same protein that forms human hair and fingernails, according to, an online group that raises global awareness of pangolins and the efforts to save them from extinction. They are solitary and nocturnal, and very little research has been conducted about their daily lives.

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