- The world's most trafficked animal could be just decades away from extinction
- Conservationist: "The rate at which they are being killed is completely unsustainable and cruel"
- Researchers hope by studying pangolin DNA, they can pinpoint the source of trade
Conservationists fear for the survival of the rare pangolin which is thought to be the most trafficked animal in the world. CNN went to South Africa to investigate why this shy ant eater is so threatened.
Tswalu Nature Reserve, South Africa (CNN)The ping is steady at first and then it quickens. Armed with an antenna in one hand and a receiver in the other, researcher Wendy Panaino turns toward the red sand dune. "He's still in his burrow, it's just over, under the dune."
A prehistoric look
- Pangolins are about the size of a cat
- They are trafficked for their scales
- The meat is considered a delicacy
- Scales are used in traditional medicine
- Thousands are trafficked each year
- All species are protected by international treaty
- No-one knows how many are left