KWS arrests three people found in possession of a live pangolin

Nairobi, 9th September 2020: Three people have been arrested and charged with being in possession of a live pangolin. The three Kenyans, all male, were arrested by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officers on 2nd September 2020 in Likoni area and charged on 3rd September 2020, at the Chief Magistrates Court in Mombasa.

Pangolins also known as scaly anteaters, remain the most trafficked animal in the world. There are eight species of pangolins spread around Africa and Asia and they are either endangered or critically endangered.  Very few people know or understand the important role pangolins play in our environment such as controlling pests as well as aiding in the decomposition cycle and vegetation growth through their burrowing behavior.

All pangolin species are afforded the highest protection status under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) due largely to their exploitation in illegal trade. If found guilty, the three accused face a fine of not less than one (1) million Kenyan Shillings or an imprisonment term of not less than five (5) years or both.

This arrest comes in after the World Wildlife Crime report 2020 noted an increase in the trafficking of live pangolins and their products; meat and scales. The scales are considered a cure for a variety of ailments including cancer, skin, and liver diseases despite there being no scientific proof of its medicinal value. The meat is also lauded as a delicacy in East Asia with the biggest market in Vietnam and China.

This case becomes the latest wildlife crime case that WildlifeDirect through the Eyes in the Courtroom program is tracking. A Courtroom Monitoring report set to be released later this year by WildlifeDirect notes an increase in pangolin cases since 2014. In 2016/17 we recorded three (3) cases which have now increased to six (6) cases.

Local citizens have begun using homegrown methods to capture this species. It is alleged that the accused wanted to sell it to tourists residing in south coast. The accused pleaded guilty to the charge and are awaiting sentencing on Thursday, 29th September 2020. However, the accused may at any point change their plea in which case the case goes for a full trial.

Call to Action

The pangolin trade is becoming rampant especially with the high returns associated with it as well as their highly perceived benefits of their body parts. Their importance to the ecosystem is integral and there is the need for sensitization to the public who are beneficiaries of this endowed ecosystem. We call upon citizens to take action by reporting on any known illegal trade in their vicinity and sharing knowledge on the importance of these species. This valuable patrimony needs to be protected and preserved for future generations.


For more information, please contact:

Victoria Wangui – WildlifeDirect, Communications Assistant

Email: +254 (0) 715 845 128

About WildlifeDirect:

WildlifeDirect is a conservation organization in Kenya whose main objective is to advocate for justice for wildlife and its habitats in Kenya. In the last decade, our focus under Eyes in the Courtroom program is to closely monitor and work with state agencies to ensure wildlife traffickers are brought to justice through efficient and effective enforcement and case trial.