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What are they?

This is not a reptile! The Sunda pangolin or Malayan Pangolin (Manis javanica) is a shy, nocturnal, solitary mammal covered in scales that are made of compressed hair.

When threatened, it curls up into an armoured ball. It may also use its anal gland to produce a foul smell to deter predators. Sunda pangolins reside in Southeast Asia. In Singapore, they are mainly distributed in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. They can also be found in forested areas in Bukit Batok, the Western Catchment Area, and on the islands of Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong. They sometimes wander into residential areas from nearby forests.


Important Ecological Roles

Control of the termite & ant population

Pangolin adults may consume about 70 million insects per year. Their digging action used when feeding also helps to loosen and aerate the soil.



The Sunda pangolin is listed as “critically endangered” in the Singapore Red Data Book 2008. In Singapore, the pangolins face the greatest threat from roadkill.

The slow-moving pangolins are also often injured or killed by vehicles when they stray off too far from the forested areas onto roads.

Globally, pangolins are greatly poached for its meat and scales, the latter in which is believed to have medicinal value.

As the pangolins have a low fecundity rate of only 1 to 2 offspring per year, the global pangolin population is depleting at a much faster rate than it can recover.



In Singapore, it is illegal under the Wildlife Act to remove wild animals, including pangolins, from the wild. Those found in nature reserves and other areas managed by NParks are also protected by the Parks and Trees Act 2005. Furthermore, a total trade ban has been placed on wild pangolins under the Endangered Species (Import and Export; CITES) Act.


How can I help?

  • If you witness any illegal trading or poaching:
    • Collect information. Take photos or video evidences of the traps, snares, nets, trapped animals, poachers, and/or their vehicle license plate number.
    • Call us at 1800-471-7300. Alternatively, you can contact the local police. 
  • Do not buy any pangolin products, such as meat, scales and medicinal products.
  • Raise awareness by sharing with your friends and family about the threats to pangolins, and what can they do to help.
  • Report your sightings, and contribute resources or media you have to various animal research and welfare groups to assist in research and conservation efforts.


What to do when I encounter a pangolin?

  • Do not be alarmed. These animals are shy and will not attack humans.
  • Do not touch, chase or corner them, as they will be frightened from your approach. You are advised to leave them alone.
  • Observe them! It is not very often that you will get to see a live pangolin. Share your findings with pangolin research and welfare groups.


If you have further queries, please contact us through our online feedback form at

References from The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and

Last updated on 08 July 2024

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