Phataginus tetradactyla 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Pholidota Manidae

Scientific Name: Phataginus tetradactyla (Linnaeus, 1766)
Common Name(s):
English Black-bellied Pangolin, Long-tailed Pangolin
French Pangolin à longue queue, Pangolin tétradactyle
Spanish Pangolín de Cola Larga
Manis tetradactyla Linnaeus, 1766
Uromanis tetradactyla (Linnaeus, 1766)
Taxonomic Source(s): Gaudin, T.J., Emry, R.J. and Wible, J.R. 2009. The phylogeny of living and extinct pangolins (Mammalia, Pholidota) and associated taxa: A morphology based analysis. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 16: 235-305.
Taxonomic Notes: Included in Manis by some authors (with Uromanis usually considered a subgenus) and referred to Uromanis by McKenna and Bell (1997). It is here assigned to the genus Phataginus, following Gaudin et al. (2009) and Grubb et al. (1998).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A4d ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2013-06-27
Assessor(s): Waterman, C., Pietersen, D., Soewu, D., Hywood, L. & Rankin, P.
Reviewer(s): Hoffmann, M.
Contributor(s): Hoffmann, M.

This species is projected to undergo a population decline of at least 30-40% over a 21 year period (seven years past, 14 years future; generation length estimated at seven years), primarily as a result of increased exploitation for local and international trade. True rates of decline are imperfectly known, and may well be slightly below the 30% threshold (in which case Near Threatened would be more appropriate), although it is unlikely that declines would exceed 50%. The assessors have chosen to take a precautionary approach in listing the species as Vulnerable, under criteria A4d; although levels of local and international trade are currently unquantified, Phataginus tetradactyla is being reported with increasing frequency in bushmeat markets in Nigeria, suggesting an increasing reliance on this species (D. Soewu pers. comm. 2013). Habitat destruction is opening up previously inaccessible habitats to hunting expeditions and, following the precipitous decline in the Asian pangolin populations, increased intercontinental trade in this species to Asian markets is also highly probable. This is driven by high demands in the region, in particular China, and the growing economic ties between Africa and China (Challender and Hywood 2012). This species’ generally low encounter rates and specialized habitat requirements are suspected to reflect generally low population densities and hence a greater proportional loss to the population of traded individuals when compared to P. tricuspis.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs in the forested regions of West and Central Africa from Sierra Leone eastwards through south-eastern Guinea, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and southwest Ghana, there being an apparent gap in distribution until west Nigeria. Its presence in Nigeria is probably underestimated because of possible confusion with the White-bellied Pangolin (Angelici et al. 1999, Kingdon and Hoffmann 2013). The species then occurs eastwards through southern Cameroon, and much of the Congo Basin forest block to the Semliki valley (and thus, just possibly, into Uganda). Its presence in Cabinda (Angola) is possible (Kingdon and Hoffmann 2013). 

Countries occurrence:
Cameroon; Central African Republic; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Equatorial Guinea (Equatorial Guinea (mainland)); Gabon; Ghana; Liberia; Nigeria; Sierra Leone
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There are no quantitative data available on densities or abundance. This is the least frequently recorded of all African pangolin species, possibly reflecting its occurrence in little-penetrated habitats or reflecting its rare nature and low densities.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This is the most arboreal of the African pangolin species, found in riverine and swamp forests typically dominated by palms (including rattans) and specialized swamp trees such as Uapaca, Pseudospondis and Mitragina. Its distribution is very localized, and the animals are never far from permanent water and water courses (Gaubert 2011, Kingdon and Hoffmann 2013). In SE Nigeria, it has been recorded in primary and secondary rainforests, in altered forests (bush), swamp forests, and in farmlands (agricultural areas of former lowland rainforests) (Angelici et al. 1999). Individuals sleep in tree hollows or hollowed-out insect nests, and feed on ants and termites that live in tree tops above the flood-line. The gestation period is about 140 days, after which the female gives birth to a single young. Breeding is believed to be aseasonal and almost continuous (Kingdon and Hoffmann 2013).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):7

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

This species is hunted for its meat, which is either consumed or traded, and for its scales, which are used for cultural and ethno-medicinal purposes, including in traditional African medicine, muti or juju (e.g. Bräutigam et al. 1994).

There is increasing evidence of intercontinental trade in this species. In June 2008 five specimens of Phataginus tetradactyla originating from the Central African Republic were seized in Paris (Chaber et al. 2010). 

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

This species is threatened by hunting for the local, and increasingly international, traditional medicine and bushmeat markets. Although historically less frequently encountered than the White-bellied Pangolin Phataginus tricuspis and Giant Ground Pangolin Smutsia gigantea, recent increases in the numbers of Back-bellied Pangolins in Nigerian bushmeat markets suggest an increasing reliance on this species to satisfy local demand (D. Soewu pers. comm. 2013).The species has been reported in international trade (Bräutigam et al. 1994, Chaber et al. 2010). According to CITES trade reports for the period 1996-2011, trade in live animals, specimens or skins is reported in nearly every year, with 40 specimens exported from the Central African Republic in 2000 ( As with other African pangolin species, exploitation of Back-bellied Pangolins for Asian markets is believed to be increasing (Challender and Hywood 2012).

Habitat loss and degradation probably also pose significant threats to the species. Regular oil spillages, especially in Nigeria and other oil-producing countries, result in habitat degradation and may directly affect Black-bellied Pangolin populations (D. Soewu pers. comm. 2013).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

This species is present in a number of protected areas (e.g. Ituri Forest Reserve, Dzanga-Sangha National Park in the Central African Republic). While it is listed on Appendix II of CITES, there is a need to develop and enforce protective legislation in many range states. Research into the population status and trends of this little-known species and an assessment of its ability to withstand current levels of hunting pressure are needed. 

Research on inter-continental trade is urgently required, given the probably increasing magnitude of this threat following the precipitous decline in Asian pangolin populations. This is driven by demand in Asia, in particular China, and the growing economic ties between Africa and China (Challender and Hywood 2012).

Citation: Waterman, C., Pietersen, D., Soewu, D., Hywood, L. & Rankin, P. 2014. Phataginus tetradactyla. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T12766A45222929. . Downloaded on 18 September 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided