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Overexploitation is one of the main pressures driving wildlife closer to extinction, yet broad-scale data to evaluate species’ declines are limited. Using African pangolins (Family: Pholidota) as a case study, we demonstrate that collating local-scale data can provide crucial information on regional trends in exploitation of threatened species to inform conservation actions and policy. We estimate that 0.4-2.7 million pangolins are hunted annually in Central African forests.