The bushmeat trade and traditional medicine could push tigers, chimpanzees, pangolins and hundreds of other species toward extinction

wildlife trafficking

Earth’s mammals are being eaten into extinction. A massive study published last year in the journal Royal Society Open Science took a deep dive into the worldwide wildlife trade and identified the 301 mammal species most at risk from overhunting.

The species, which are typically eaten for food or for their purported medicinal qualities, include tigers, several medium-sized cats, 126 species of primates, all eight species of pangolins, dozens of ungulate species, more than 20 species of bats, several kangaroos, four species of rhinos, and a long list of rodents. Only 2 percent of these species have stable or increasing populations, according to the paper.

As the authors wrote, this is a much bigger story than just the 301 mammal species. It’s also about the cascading effect of the loss of these animals on their native ecosystems. For example, when large predator species disappear, the populations of their former prey animals explode, creating consequences for other animals and vegetation. Beyond that, these impending extinctions also affect human food security, economic livelihoods, and even the transmission of zoonotic diseases.

The picture presented by this paper is admittedly bleak, but it ends on a hopeful note with a list of five conservation actions that could help turn all of this around. Those include improving legal protections for wildlife, empowering local communities to benefit from wildlife conservation, providing alternative sources of food, and increasing education and family planning to lower human birth rates, especially in rural areas.

There is little doubt that wild-caught meat provides an essential element to human nutrition in many areas around the world. What is also clear, however, is that current hunting for all of these species exists at unsustainable levels. Left unchecked, it could lead to ecological collapse in some of the areas of the world least able to adapt. That would spell doom not just for the animals, but also the people who surround them.

Below, you can find the full list of the 301 mammal species identified by the paper as being the most at risk.

Abbott’s Duiker Cephalophus spadix
Addax Addax nasomaculatus
Addra Gazelle Nanger dama
Aders’ Duiker Cephalophus adersi
African Ass Equus africanus
African White-bellied Pangolin Phataginus tricuspis
Alaotran Gentle Lemur Hapalemur alaotrensis
Alpine Musk Deer Moschus chrysogaster
Alpine Wallaby Thylogale calabyi
Alpine Woolly Rat Mallomys gunung
Andean Bear Tremarctos ornatus
Andean Cat Leopardus jacobita
Andean Hairy Armadillo Chaetophractus nationi
Andean Titi Monkey Callicebus oenanthe
Anhui Musk Deer Moschus anhuiensis
Ankarana Sportive Lemur Lepilemur ankaranensis
Anoa Bubalus depressicornis
Aoudad Ammotragus lervia
Arfak Ringtail Pseudochirulus schlegeli
Arnhold’s Mouse Lemur Microcebus arnholdi
Asian Tapir Tapirus indicus
Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus
Attenborough’s Echidna Zaglossus attenboroughi
Audebert’s Brown Lemur Eulemur rufus
Aye-aye Daubentonia madagascariensis
Bactrian Camel Camelus ferus
Baird’s Tapir Tapirus bairdii
Balabac Chevrotain Tragulus nigricans
Bald-headed Uacari Cacajao calvus
Bamboo Lemur Hapalemur griseus
Banded Duiker Cephalophus zebra
Banks Flying Fox Pteropus fundatus
Banteng Bos javanicus
Barasingha Rucervus duvaucelii
Bay Colobus Procolobus badius
Bear Cuscus Ailurops ursinus
Bear Macaque Macaca arctoides
Bearded Pig Sus barbatus
Bearded Saki Chiropotes satanas
Betsileo Sportive Lemur Lepilemur betsileo
Bezoar Capra aegagrus
Biak Spotted Cuscus Spilocuscus wilsoni
Black Colobus Colobus satanas
Black Crested Gibbon Nomascus concolor
Black Crested Macaque Macaca nigra
Black Howling Monkey Alouatta pigra
Black Lemur Eulemur macaco
Black Musk Deer Moschus fuscus
Black Rhinoceros Diceros bicornis
Black Snub-nosed Monkey Rhinopithecus bieti
Black Spider Monkey Ateles paniscus
Black Tree-kangaroo Dendrolagus ursinus
Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur Varecia variegata
Black-bearded Flying Fox Pteropus melanopogon
Black-bellied Pangolin Phataginus tetradactyla
Black-faced Black Spider Monkey Ateles chamek
Black-faced Lion Tamarin Leontopithecus caissara
Black-footed Gray Langur Semnopithecus hypoleucos
Black-headed Spider Monkey Ateles fusciceps
Black-headed Uacari Cacajao hosomi
Black-shanked Douc Pygathrix nigripes
Black-spotted Cuscus Spilocuscus rufoniger
Black-tailed Hutia Mysateles melanurus
Blonde Capuchin Cebus flavius
Blue-eyed Black Lemur Eulemur flavifrons
Bongolava Mouse Lemur Microcebus bongolavensis
Bonobo Pan paniscus
Bougainville Giant Rat Solomys salebrosus
Bougainville Monkey-faced Bat Pteralopex anceps
Bouvier’s Red Colobus Procolobus pennantii
Brazilian Tapir Tapirus terrestris
Brazilian Three-banded Armadillo Tolypeutes tricinctus
Broad-nosed Gentle Lemur Prolemur simus
Brow-antlered Deer Rucervus eldii
Brown’s Hutia Geocapromys brownii
Buff-cheeked Gibbon Nomascus gabriellae
Buff-headed Capuchin Cebus xanthosternos
Buffy Saki Pithecia albicans
Bulmer’s Fruit Bat Aproteles bulmerae
Burmese Snub-nosed Monkey Rhinopithecus strykeri
Calamanian Deer Axis calamianensis
Cape Pangolin Smutsia temminckii
Capped Gibbon Hylobates pileatus
Caroline Flying Fox Pteropus molossinus
Carolines Fruit Bat Pteropus insularis
Cat Ba Langur Trachypithecus poliocephalus
Ceram Fruit Bat Pteropus ocularis
Chacoan Peccary Catagonus wagneri
Chapman’s Prehensile-tailed Hutia Mysateles gundlachi
Chilean Pudu Pudu puda
Chimpanzee Pan troglodytes
Chinese Forest Musk Deer Moschus berezovskii
Chinese Goral Naemorhedus caudatus
Chinese Goral Naemorhedus griseus
Chinese Pangolin Manis pentadactyla
Chinese Pinyin Lepus hainanus
Chinese Water Deer Hydropotes inermis
Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa
Collared Brown Lemur Eulemur collaris
Collared Mangabey Cercocebus torquatus
Colombian Woolly Monkey Lagothrix lugens
Common Gibbon Hylobates lar
Common Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius
Coquerel’s Sifaka Propithecus coquereli
Crowned Lemur Eulemur coronatus
Cusp-toothed Flying Fox Pteralopex atrata
Cuvier’s Gazelle Gazella cuvieri
Cuvier’s Hutia Plagiodontia aedium
Cyprian Wild Sheep Ovis orientalis
Danfoss’ Mouse Lemur Microcebus danfossi
Daraina Sportive Lemur Lepilemur milanoii
Delacour’s Langur Trachypithecus delacouri
Diana Guenon Cercopithecus diana
Dingiso Dendrolagus mbaiso
Dorcas Gazelle Gazella dorcas
Doria’s Tree Kangaroo Dendrolagus dorianus
Dryad Monkey Cercopithecus dryas
Dumoga-bone Macaque Macaca nigrescens
Dusky Pademelon Thylogale brunii
Dwarf Gibbon Hylobates klossii
Eared Hutia Mesocapromys auritus
Eastern Hoolock Hoolock leuconedys
Eastern Long-beaked Echidna Zaglossus bartoni
Ebony Leaf Monkey Trachypithecus auratus
Fleurete’s Sportive Lemur Lepilemur fleuretae
Francois’s Langur Trachypithecus francoisi
Gaur Bos gaurus
Gebe Cuscus Phalanger alexandrae
Geelvink Bay Flying Fox Pteropus pohlei
Geoffroy’s Black-and-white Colobus Colobus vellerosus
Geoffroy’s Peruvian Woolly Monkey Lagothrix cana
Germains Langur Trachypithecus germaini
Gerp’s Mouse Lemur Microcebus gerpi
Giant Armadillo Priodontes maximus
Giant Bandicoot Peroryctes broadbenti
Giant Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat Crateromys schadenbergi
Giant Ground Pangolin Smutsia gigantea
Giant Muntjac Muntiacus vuquangensis
Goitered Gazelle Gazella subgutturosa
Golden-capped Fruit Bat Acerodon jubatus
Golden-crowned Sifaka Propithecus tattersalli
Golden-mantled Tree Kangaroo Dendrolagus pulcherrimus
Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo Dendrolagus goodfellowi
Gray Dorcopsis Dorcopsis luctuosa
Gray Leaf Monkey Presbytis hosei
Gray’s Sportive Lemur Lepilemur dorsalis
Gray-shanked Douc Langur Pygathrix cinerea
Greater Monkey-faced Bat Pteralopex flanneryi
Greater One-horned Rhino Rhinoceros unicornis
Grewcock’s Sportive Lemur Lepilemur grewcockorum
Grey Ox Bos sauveli
Grey-headed Lemur Eulemur cinereiceps
Grizzled Leaf Monkey Presbytis comata
Grizzled Tree Kangaroo Dendrolagus inustus
Hainan Black Crested Gibbon Nomascus hainanus
Hairy-eared Dwarf Lemur Allocebus trichotis
Hamlyns Monkey Cercopithecus hamlyni
Hatinh Langur Trachypithecus hatinhensis
Hawks’ Sportive Lemur Lepilemur tymerlachsoni
Himalayan Field Mouse Apodemus gurkha
Himalayan Muskdeer Moschus leucogaster
Hirola Beatragus hunteri
Hog Deer Axis porcinus
Holland’s Sportive Lemur Lepilemur hollandorum
Hoolock Gibbon Hoolock hoolock
Hubbard’s Sportive Lemur Lepilemur hubbardorum
Humes Rat Hadromys humei
Huon Tree Kangaroo Dendrolagus matschiei
Idmi Gazella gazella
Ifola tree-kangaroo Dendrolagus notatus
Indian Pangolin Manis crassicaudata
Indonesian Porcupine Hystrix pumila
Indri Indri indri
James’ Sportive Lemur Lepilemur jamesorum
Javan Deer Rusa timorensis
Javan Pig Sus verrucosus
Javan Rhinoceros Rhinoceros sondaicus
Jentink’s Duiker Cephalophus jentinki
Johnston’s Genet Genetta johnstoni
Jolly’s Mouse Lemur Microcebus jollyae
Kafue mole-rat Fukomys kafuensis
Kashmir Muskdeer Moschus cupreus
King Colobus Colobus polykomos
Lao Langur Trachypithecus laotum
Laotian Rock Rat Laonastes aenigmamus
Large-spotted Civet Viverra megaspila
Lesser Slow Loris Nycticebus pygmaeus
Lesser Weasel Lemur Lepilemur ruficaudatus
Liberian Mongoose Liberiictis kuhni
Light-necked Sportive Lemur Lepilemur microdon
Lion-tailed Macaque Macaca silenus
Little Celebes Cuscus Strigocuscus celebensis
Little Earth Hutia Mesocapromys sanfelipensis
Long-beaked Echidna Zaglossus bruijnii
Long-haired Spider Monkey Ateles belzebuth
Long-tailed Langur Presbytis potenziani
Lowland Gorilla Gorilla gorilla
Maclaud’s Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus maclaudi
Madagascan Flying Fox Pteropus rufus
Madagascan Fruit Bat Eidolon dupreanum
Makira Flying Fox Pteropus cognatus
Malayan Pangolin Manis javanica
Malayan Sun Bear Helarctos malayanus
Manado Fruit-bat Rousettus bidens
Mandrill Mandrillus sphinx
Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata
Marianas Flying Fox Pteropus mariannus
Markhor Capra falconeri
Marsh Deer Blastocerus dichotomus
Masoala Sportive Lemur Lepilemur scottorum
Masoala Woolly Lemur Avahi mooreorum
Milne-edward’s Sifaka Propithecus edwardsi
Mittermeier’s Sportive Lemur Lepilemur mittermeieri
Mongolian Saiga Saiga tatarica
Mountain Anoa Bubalus quarlesi
Mountain Nyala Tragelaphus buxtoni
Mountain Pademelon Thylogale lanatus
Muriqui Brachyteles arachnoides
Namdapha Flying Squirrel Biswamoyopterus biswasi
Negros Naked-backed Fruit Bat Dobsonia chapmani
New Guinea Pademelon Thylogale browni
Nilgiri Tahr Nilgiritragus hylocrius
Northern Glider Petaurus abidi
Northern Hydromyine Paraleptomys rufilatus
Northern Muriqui Brachyteles hypoxanthus
Northern Pig-tailed Macaque Macaca leonina
Northern White-cheeked Gibbon Nomascus leucogenys
Nubian Ibex Capra nubiana
Ornate Flying Fox Pteropus ornatus
Owston’s Banded Palm Civet Chrotogale owstoni
Pagai Island Macaque Macaca pagensis
Palawan Bearded Pig Sus ahoenobarbus
Palawan Flying Fox Acerodon leucotis
Peruvian Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey Oreonax flavicauda
Phayre’s Langur Trachypithecus phayrei
Philippine Brown Deer Rusa marianna
Philippine Pangolin Manis culionensis
Philippine Warty Pig Sus philippensis
Phillipine Spotted Deer Rusa alfredi
Pig-tailed Langur Simias concolor
Poeppig’s Woolly Monkey Lagothrix poeppigii
Poncelet’s Giant Rat Solomys ponceleti
Preuss’s Guenon Cercopithecus preussi
Preuss’s Red Colobus Procolobus preussi
Reclusive Ringtail Pseudochirops coronatus
Red Goral Naemorhedus baileyi
Red Slender Loris Loris tardigradus
Red-capped Monkey Cercocebus atys
Red-eared Guenon Cercopithecus erythrotis
Red-fronted Gazelle Eudorcas rufifrons
Red-ruffed Lemur Varecia rubra
Red-shanked Douc Pygathrix nemaeus
Rennell Flying Fox Pteropus rennelli
Rhim Gazella leptoceros
Ring-tailed Lemur Lemur catta
Roatan Island Agouti Dasyprocta ruatanica
Sahamalaza Peninsula Sportive Lemur Lepilemur sahamalazensis
Salim Ali’s Fruit Bat Latidens salimalii
Sambar Rusa unicolor
Sambirano Lesser Bamboo Lemur Hapalemur occidentalis
Sanje Crested Mangabey Cercocebus sanjei
Saola Pseudoryx nghetinhensis
Scott’s Tree-kangaroo Dendrolagus scottae
Seal’s Sportive Lemur Lepilemur seali
Seris Tree Kangaroo Dendrolagus stellarum
Shortridges Capped Langur Trachypithecus shortridgei
Siau Island Tarsier Tarsius tumpara
Siberian Musk Deer Moschus moschiferus
Siberut Macaque Macaca siberu
Silky Sifaka Propithecus candidus
Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus
Soemmerring’s Gazelle Nanger soemmerringii
Southern Giant Slender-tailed Cloud Rat Phloeomys cumingi
Southern White-cheeked Gibbon Nomascus siki
Sulawesi Babirusa Babyrousa celebensis
Sulawesi Giant Squirrel Rubrisciurus rubriventer
Sulawesi Harpy Fruit Bat Harpyionycteris celebensis
Sumatran Rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis
Sunda Flying-fox Acerodon mackloti
Takin Budorcas taxicolor
Talaud Acerodon Acerodon humilis
Talaud Bear Cuscus Ailurops melanotis
Telefomin Cuscus Phalanger matanim
Temminck’s Flying Fox Pteropus temminckii
Thorold’s Deer Cervus albirostris
Tiger Panthera tigris
Tonkean Black Macaque Macaca tonkeana
Tonkin Snub-nosed Monkey Rhinopithecus avunculus
Tufted Ground Squirrel Rheithrosciurus macrotis
Udzungwa Red Colobus Procolobus gordonorum
Uta Hick’s Bearded Saki Chiropotes utahickae
Visayan Warty Pig Sus cebifrons
West Caucasian Tur Capra caucasica
White-cheeked Spider Monkey Ateles marginatus
White-faced Langur Presbytis frontata
White-fronted Brown Lemur Eulemur albifrons
White-lipped Peccary Tayassu pecari
Wild Yak Bos mutus
Wondiwoi Tree-kangaroo Dendrolagus mayri
Wright’s Sportive Lemur Lepilemur wrightae
Yap Flying Fox Pteropus yapensis


A version of this article was originally published by Scientific American.

John R. Platt

is the editor of The Revelator. An award-winning environmental journalist, his work has appeared in Scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and numerous other magazines and publications. His “Extinction Countdown” column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers. John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.