Skip to content

Sunda pangolin

Manis javanica


Pangolins are the world’s most trafficked mammal.

The species is heavily hunted both within China and its other range states, for its meat, which is considered a delicacy, as well as for its skin and scales which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Sunda pangolins, or scaly anteaters are a group of unusual mammals with tough, protective keratin scales. They have convergently developed many features that other ant, or termite eating species share – such as long powerful claws, for ripping open ant and termite nests, and a long, thin, sticky tongue which can measure up to 40 cm in length, for scooping up its prey.

Despite these shared characteristics, they are not closely related to species such as aardvarks or anteaters, with the 8 species of pangolin being the only members of their family Pholidota, and also their family Manidae. One of the closest relative to the pangolin is the mongoose, and they last shared a common ancestor around 75 million years ago!

  • Order: Pholidota
  • Family: Manidae
  • Population: Unknown
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 45-52cm
  • Weight: 4.2-7.5kg

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 14.23 (?)
ED Score: 15.85 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


The Sunda pangolins’ range covers much of mainland Southeast Asia, from southern Myanmar through central and southern Lao PDR, much of Thailand, central and southern Vietnam, Cambodia, to Peninsular Malaysia, to Sumatra, Java and adjacent islands (Indonesia) to Borneo (Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei).

Habitat and Ecology

This pangolin has been found in primary and secondary forest, and in cultivated areas including gardens and plantations, including near human settlements. Like other pangolins, they are nocturnal, solitary, and a specialised feeder on ants and termites with their long sticky tongues. They sleep in hollows either in, or at the base of trees, rather than excavating their own burrows in soil.

Find out more

Conservation Actions

For each key category of conservation action, we calculated a conservation attention score based on expert information. In this graph, a higher score means the action is being carried out more intensively over more of the species range. The colour shows how important each action is considered to be for the conservation of this species.

Engaging stakeholders
Addressing threats
Status of knowledge
Management plan
Capacity building
Behaviour change
Awareness raising
  Score: 100 means the activity occurs at high level across more than 75% of the species range
Very Low

Overall Conservation Attention

We combined all of the expert information on conservation actions to calculate an overall conservation attention score for this species. Please help us to reach our goal of establishing dedicated conservation attention at “High” levels for all EDGE species.

Very Low Low Medium High

More information

Recent studies have grouped all possible conservation activities for any species into nine key categories (Washington et. al 2015). For each action, we asked experts for each species to assess the extent to which that action is being carried out and how much of the species’ range that action occurs in. For each action we used these two pieces of information to calculate the conservation attention score per action. A score of 100 means that the action is being carried out to a high level across at least 75% of the species range. We then combined the scores for all actions into an overall conservation attention score for the species. The experts also judged how important each category was to the conservation of that particular species.

This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Roads/Rail Hunting Logging Dams

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
Available at:

Download the survival blueprint for this species below. Each survival blueprint is compiled by an EDGE fellow working on the species with input from collaborators and stakeholders. The survival blueprint provides a status review (information on the distribution, protection status, habitat & ecology, threat and stakeholder analysis) and more information on the action programme listed here. 

Vision (30-50 years)

A population of Sunda pangolins in Thailand thriving again throughout its range, with full protection in the healthy ecosystem.

Goal (5-10 years)

To assess the population status of the Sunda pangolin in the country, and ensure the effective protection of the populations with strict patrolling and efficient law enforcement. Engage local communities located near to the species’ habitats in the protection of the species.


Population status is assessed across the country. Critical
The whole pangolin population in the country is secure and fully protected. Critical
Local communities are engaged in the protection of the species. Critical
Efficient management of confiscated and rehabilitated populations. High
The Sunda pangolin conservation programme is supported by all stakeholders in Thailand. High
All checkpoints on the illegal wildlife trade routes in Thailand are more strictly enforced. Medium

Tran Quang Phuong

  • Project name: Developing release protocols for fully-rehabilitated trade-confiscated Sunda pangolins, Manis javanica, in Vietnam
  • Project site: Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam
  • Active: 2011 - 2014
Find out more

Withoon Sodsai

  • Project name: Assessing the effectiveness survey to develop Sunda pangolin distribution maps and habitat suitability models
  • Project site: Salakpra Conservation Landscape in Kanchanaburi, Thailand
  • Active: 2016 - 2018
Find out more