Chinese pangolin populations are declining globally due to illegal wildlife trades in its range countries, especially China and Vietnam, where the largest markets for this species exist. Identifying the trade routes is crucial for developing conservation plans for the pangolin and understanding the attributes of the individuals involved in the illegal trade. We aimed to identify local trade routes and the socio-economic status of people involved in pangolin trades from the Gaurishankar Conservation Area [a Protected Area (PA)] and the Ramechhap district [a non-Protected Area (non-PA)] of Nepal. We found that pangolin traders were typically poor, illiterate, unemployed, male, and of working age (17–40 years old). Confiscation rates of pangolin parts were higher in non-PAs than Pas as the illegal trade routes seemed to differ between the PAs and non-PAs. From 2014 to 2018, the prices of pangolin scales in PAs and non-PAs increased by 50% and 67%, respectively. Our results highlight locals facilitating the trade of pangolins, therefore we recommend the need for other income generating sources such as ecotourism or providing incentives to promote local industries as well as to establish Community Based Anti-Poaching Units among range countries and trade route countries to control the trade of this globally threatened species.
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