Animal Studies Journal


This paper explores the literature on the illegal wildlife trade (IWT) by following the journey of a single imagined Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) through the entire trading process. Literature on IWT frequently refers to non-human animals in terms of collectives, species, or body parts, for example ‘tons of pangolin scales’, rather than as subjective individuals. In contrast, this paper centralizes the experiences of an individual pangolin by using a cross- disciplinary methodology, combining fact with a fictional narrative of subjective pangolin experience, in an empathetic and egomorphic process. The paper draws together known legislation, trade practices, and pangolin biology, structured around the journey of an imagined pangolin. At each stage of IWT, from poaching to consumption, the relationships between various actors are contextualized, helping to untangle the complex networks and relationships (both human-human and human-animal) involved in IWT. Concluding recommendations are made about ways to address IWT, including supporting locals in source areas, educating consumers, and improving law enforcement. It is hoped that this methodology will be applied to further studies of human and non-human animal interactions in this area of research, in order to individualize non-human animals and recognize their subjective experiences.