Saturday, February 15, 2020


Today is the ninth World Pangolin Day, and some of you might not even be quite sure what a pangolin is. (I only learned a few months ago.) Is it a pasta dish or a musical instrument? Nope, it's a small mammal, similar to an anteater, covered with scales made of keratin (like our fingernails and hair). And it may be the most trafficked mammal in the world.

Pangolins are illegally captured transported internationally. Their scales are used in some traditional medicine (despite a lack of evidence of a benefit) and pangolins are also eaten.

The UW's Center for Conservation Biology is on the front line in the fight to save pangolins. It won a USAID Tech Challenge for its project to pinpoint the sources of trafficked pangolins using DNA analysis. The team augments its sophisticated science with specially trained conservation canines who can sniff out the pangolin poo that's needed to construct genetic maps of each group's range and enable law enforcement to pinpoint the source of a seized shipment. This video describes the project:

If you're interested in wildlife law, a great place to start is Wildlife Law: A Primer (2d ed. 2019), by Eric T. Freyfogle, Dale D. Goble, and Todd A. Wildermuth.

To follow new developments, see this library guide

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