Due to their continual exploitation, most pangolin species are listed as critically endangered and more recently, some studies believe pangolins are linked to the pandemic, with COVID-19 found in pangolins to be 99% similar to that found in humans. As of today, all species of pangolin are protected under the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), with 168 countries at CITES in 2016 to ban the trade of the animal. In addition to this, in June 2020, China increased protection of pangolins to its pinnacle, by closing a popular loophole often used when consuming the species within the country.
This was then followed up with the banning of pangolin scales in medicine, all of which was a step in the right direction for the species. However, recent studies published in scientific journal, Biological Conservation, suggest that the extent of pangolin trafficking in Nigeria is highly underestimated. Instead, the epicentre of pangolin trade has shifted to Africa – Nigeria being associated with over a million trafficking seizures in the past decade. There was a slight lull in 2020 with travel restrictions due to COVID-19, however now in 2021, trade has fully resumed.