September 17, 2020
By: Faith Hornor Amanda Shaver Devin Thorne
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The Bottom Line Up Front

Tipping the Scales analyses 899 pangolin seizures to trace this illicit system from consolidation hubs in West and Central Africa to China’s consumer markets.

Executive Summary #

The trafficking of pangolins and their scales drives corruption, undermines the rule of law, creates public health risks, and even threatens local and regional security.

Additionally, the illicit pangolin trade may have even played a role in the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Critically, the trade—and all of its related challenges—appears to be growing: between 2015 and 2019, 253 tonnes of pangolin scales were confiscated, and the annual quantity of pangolin scales seized increased by nearly 400%. To expose the logistics of how these scales are trafficked internationally, Tipping the Scales uses publicly available seizure data and investigative case studies.

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