Despite growing risks of extinction, pangolins have historically attracted little conservation attention. However, in 2008, a TRAFFIC workshop held in Singapore brought the threats to Asian pangolins from illegal trade to an international audience. In the years since, there has been growing momentum in the field of pangolin conservation, including the formation of the African and Singapore Pangolin Working Groups in 2011 and 2014 and the re-establishment of the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group in 2012.
In this paper, we review the ways in which the Pangolin Specialist Group membership are contributing to pangolin conservation at local, national and global scales and highlight successes in five key areas:
The combined activities of Pangolin Specialist Group members along with the contributions of key stakeholders and NGOs have set pangolin conservation off to a positive start. However, if we are to secure a future for these unique and fascinating species, it is essential that these efforts are sustained and that we continue to drive forward in our mission to scale up pangolin conservation.
Access the full article here]]>
Local ecological knowledge (LEK) is increasingly seen as an important source of information for conservation. Furthermore, pangolins are now the most heavily trafficked mammals in illegal wildlife trade, and Chinese pangolins (Manis pentadactyla) are Critically Endangered.
With no recent baseline data available to assess status of pangolin populations in China, we conducted community-based interviews across seven protected areas in Hainan, China, to investigate whether LEK can provide novel insights for pangolin conservation. We found that LEK of pangolins remains high in Hainan: “90% of respondents recognize pangolins and can provide supporting information”. Pangolins are likely to survive in all protected areas that were surveyed, as evidenced by recent sightings dating from 2013 to 2015. However, all populations have declined and are now perceived to be of very low abundance: “only 34% of respondents consider pangolins to remain locally present, and these respondents all regard pangolins as rare”. Illegal hunting continues across this region, with pangolin body parts used locally and sold to outsiders. Pangolins are likely to soon become extirpated across Hainan unless effective conservation management plans can be initiated.
We have demonstrated that large-scale LEK surveys can strengthen the evidence-base for informing robust conservation action and management plans for pangolins. Moreover, methods to monitor and assess pangolin status and threats are urgently required across all range states. Our results suggest that large-scale systematic LEK surveys can contribute to this goal. LEK surveys can be inexpensive and relatively rapid to conduct over wide geographic areas in comparison to other methods employed to detect pangolins, and can collect data on sightings, population trends and patterns of exploitation through time rather than only providing an assessment of current conditions. Whilst LEK data must be collected and analysed critically using methods such as those we have employed, to try to minimize or control for potential response inaccuracy and/or biases, this first large-scale LEK survey of pangolins in China has produced landscape-level findings of major importance for prioritizing areas for future pangolin conservation. We recommend that further surveys are conducted regionally and internationally to help inform other regional pangolin conservation action plans. Data sharing can be sensitively managed to avoid disclosure of exact pangolin locations. Whilst there is still an urgent need to develop and strengthen conservation management strategies for pangolins, show-casing pangolin survival and promoting conservation of these incredible animals on Hainan remains possible, and would set an important example at a global scale.
Free full-text version of the article available here until April 23, 2016.]]>
Saturday 20th January 2016 is the fifth World Pangolin Day! This means people across expanding pockets of the globe will be celebrating the eight extant species of pangolins, which are also known as scaly anteaters, and which characteristically roll up into a ball when threatened. If anything like previous years, this will involve the holding of workshops on pangolin conservation, using national radio broadcasts to tell people about the animals and the threats they face, baking pangolin themed cakes, ‘pumping it for pangolins’, making infographics to share online, and building snow pangolins – and all to raise awareness of, and celebrate, these truly unique, fascinating, and increasingly iconic animals.
All these efforts will hopefully contribute positively to the growing global awareness of pangolins and the trouble they are in, both in Africa and Asia. The main threats to pangolins in Asia are poaching and illegal hunting driven largely by an illicit international trade in the animals and their meat and scales, and which is characteristically destined for China and Vietnam. Here, the meat is consumed as a luxury dish in expensive restaurants and the scales are used in medicines to cure a range of medical problems – including helping lactating mothers to secrete milk, to cure skins diseases and to improve blood circulation. In Africa the main threats are again poaching and illicit hunting of the animals, which are eaten as bushmeat and their scales used in a wide variety of ethno-medicinal and spiritual uses, as well as a developing inter-continental trade in African pangolin parts, mainly scales, to Asian markets. As a result of these threats, pangolin populations globally are in decline and all eight species are now threatened with extinction.
Thankfully, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future. For me, World Pangolin Day is always a day which makes me think about and question what has been achieved in pangolin conservation in the last year and I’m pleased to say that in the last 12 months there have been some positives. A major highlight was the launching of The Fondation Segré Pangolin Initiative. This is the biggest ever pangolin conservation project funded to date, and which focuses on tackling direct threats to pangolins at priority sites in Cameroon and Thailand and by initiating research into demand for pangolin products in China, and hopefully this symbols the start of concerted investment in pangolin conservation on a global scale. Another highlight was the First Pangolin Range States meeting, hosted by the governments of Vietnam and the United States, which saw many different pangolin range states meet for three days in Da Nang, Vietnam, to discuss and plan conservation responses to the global pangolin crisis.
This year, more so than others, is even more reflective, as it is four years since the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group was reformed (four years = one IUCN quadrennium) and so I’ve also been thinking about what the group has achieved since 2012. Thankfully, I can look back and think we’ve made good progress in advancing the conservation of pangolins. A sample of successes achieved during this time include revising the conservation status of pangolins on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM, launching a global conservation action plan for pangolins ‘Scaling Up Pangolin Conservation’, taking the latest information on the scale of illegal pangolin trade to CITES meetings, conducting research in Africa and Asia on uses and demand for pangolin parts as well as on pangolin behaviour, ecology and biology, launching a working group to develop monitoring methods for pangolins, completing the rescue, rehabilitation and release of pangolins in Africa and Asia, advising United for Wildlife on pangolin conservation, and raising awareness of the threats pangolins face through print, broadcast, and social media.
However, despite laying these foundations, this is only the start and there is much more to do to secure the conservation of pangolins globally. This is reflected in the Pangolin Specialist Group Action Plan which recognises that solving the pangolin crisis is complex, will not be solved by silver bullet solutions, but commands a multi-faceted and co-ordinated response. Thankfully, we’ve seen such collaboration over the past 12 months, and indeed the last four years. This of course includes raising awareness, and though it won’t solve everything, it can hopefully contribute to the pangolin’s cause in a positive manner. So, please do your bit, celebrate World Pangolin Day 2016, and help us put a spotlight on the animals and scale up pangolin conservation.
by Dan Challender, Co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group]]>
After this report, the US introduced a short report (agenda item 50.2) on the First Pangolin Range States meeting.
After these documents were introduced observer Parties and organisations made various interventions. Niger, Zimbabwe, Botswana, the US, and Portugal all came out supporting the work of the working group and supporting the recommendations proposed. China emphasised that little is known about pangolin populations and more information on this front is needed. Norway also supported the requirements in 50.1, but suggested that the reporting outlined in the working group report may be too heavy at present and suggested the Resolution in the Annex to the working group report be amended to a Decision. India stated that the Indian and Chinese pangolins are included in the WPA 1972 in India and that it supports the listing for all pangolins in Appendix I.
IUCN made the following intervention: Thank you, Chair. In the interests of time I will keep this intervention brief. Regarding Agenda item 50.1 it may help the Standing Committee and Parties to know that last year IUCN published revised Red List assessments for each of the eight species of pangolin, all of which are now threatened with extinction. In these revised assessments, the Chinese pangolin Manis pentadactyla and Sunda pangolin Manis javanica are listed as Critically Endangered, and the Indian pangolin Manis crassicaudata and Philippine pangolin Manis culionensis are listed as Endangered. The African species, the Tree pangolin Manis tricuspis, Long-tailed pangolin Manis tetradactyla, Giant pangolin Manis gigantea and Temminck’s Ground pangolin Manis temminckii are all listed as Vulnerable. The principal threats to the species are illicit hunting and poaching driven primarily by illegal, international trade, and in Africa exploitation for bushmeat and medicinal use. In this regard, and since 2000, there have been over 1,000 reported seizures involving pangolins and their derivatives globally, representing at a minimum 260,000 pangolins in international trade from Africa and Asia. More information can be found in the inf. doc on this matter submitted to SC66. Thank you, Chair.
Interventions then followed from IFAW on behalf of IFAW, HSI, Born Free, Natural Resources Defence Council, Centre for Biological Diversity, Animal Welfare Institute, Annamiticus and the Tikki Hywood Trust broadly supporting findings of the First Pangolin Range States meeting, and the PangolinSG Inf. doc (which was submitted to the Standing Committee meeting by the CITES Secretariat) and this intervention also stated that captive-breeding of pangolins not suitable as a tool for their conservation.
ZSL also made an intervention in which it stated its support for the PangolinSG inf. doc and strong support for the WG recommendations, and is willing to work with the Parties and IUCN, TRAFFIC and UNEP-WCMC on reporting mandates arising in the future.
Save Vietnam’s Wildlife also gave an intervention reiterating the need for action to conserve pangolins and address trade following declines of pangolin species in Vietnam.
Between the plenary session and the working group meeting (which took place on Wednesday evening) the working group Chair liaised with the CITES Secretariat following plenary discussion and suggested amendments to the Resolution as contained in the working group report, and which included dividing the Resolution into a Resolution and Decision. Following input from various sides in the working group a draft Resolution and Decision went back to plenary as recommendations and were signed off by the Standing Committee. Arguably the biggest change was to the draft outcomes was the timing. Including a reporting mandate in a Decision as opposed to the Resolution (which may or may not be adopted by CoP17) is that, if the Decision is adopted at CoP17, the reporting mandate will be completed by SC69 (2017 – subject to available resources) as opposed to CoP18 only, which will likely take place in 2019. In sum, the next CITES CoP, CoP17 in September, will be asked to adopt the drafted Resolution on pangolin conservation and trade, and the Decision which includes a reporting mandate to SC69 and CoP18 on, inter alia, pangolin status and legal and illegal trade trends. This can be seen as good progress for the species, especially if we think where they were a few years ago.
Before all of this took place the PangolinSG hosted a side event on Tuesday lunchtime, which was kindly introduced and moderated by Sue Lieberman (IUCN SSC Steering Committee member) and saw Dan Challender, Co-Chair of the PangolinSG and Lisa Hywood and Nguyen Van Thai, member of the PangolinSG, give presentations on the illegal trade, conservation status and use of pangolins at the global level and in Zimbabwe and Vietnam specifically. The event was well attended and well received and there were some good questions afterwards. The idea was to raise awareness of the issues pangolins face – linked to the SC66 meeting agenda – among Parties and other observers and which was achieved.]]>
The project will work to protect four species of Pangolin. This includes the Giant Pangolin Smutsia gigantea, the White-bellied Pangolin Phataginus tricuspis and the Black-bellied Pangolin Phataginus tetradactyla – all of which are categorised as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. The fourth species is the Critically Endangered Sunda Pangolin Manis javanica.
Project activities will focus on tackling direct threats to pangolins at priority sites in Africa and Asia, and on initiating research into reducing demand for pangolin products in
China, the primary market for the species and their derivatives.
To date there have been very few targeted conservation initiatives in place for pangolins according to Dan Challender, Co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group (PangolinSG) and who presented on the global conservation status and trade in pangolins at the Da Nang workshop and is a technical advisor to the SOS project. “Reducing demand for pangolins in East Asian markets is imperative to securing their future,” he adds.
All eight species of pangolin have been included in Appendix II of CITES since 1975, restricting trade. But populations are increasingly under pressure from illegal hunting and poaching for illicit international trade. Demand for their meat, which is considered a delicacy in East Asia, and their scales, which are used in traditional Asian medicines is beyond unsustainable.
The PangolinSG estimated that one million pangolins have been traded illegally in the last 10 years, contributing to population declines of up to 90% in the Asian species and a subsequent increase in inter-continental trade in pangolin parts from African countries to Asian markets.
This project, implemented by IUCN Member Zoological Society of London (ZSL) under the leadership of Prof. Jonathan E. M. Baillie, Conservation Programmes Director at ZSL and Co-Chair of the IUCN SSC PangolinSG and Carly Waterman, EDGE Programme Manager at ZSL and Red List Authority Coordinator for the PangolinSG, will effect key conservation recommendations articulated in the recently published action plan ‘Scaling up pangolin conservation’.
This first ever document of its kind sets out the priorities for the next 10 years and was a key tool used at the recent Da Nang meeting to help generate effective recommendations for coordinated pangolin conservation efforts.
Because it is directly aligned to this ten year plan, the SOS Pangolin Conservation Initiative in collaboration with Foundation Segré represents an exciting development joining up the dots across international borders to help build a coordinated frontline effort against pangolin extinction.]]>
The PangolinSG was represented by eight members (Dan Challender, Jeff Flocken, Lisa Hywood, Levita Lagrada, Darren Pietersen, Scott Roberton, Nguyen Van Thai, Carly Waterman and Leanne Wicker) each of which played a pivotal role in the three day meeting. On the first day of the meeting, a series of presentations were delivered and three of the six technical presentations came from PangolinSG members who shared their expertise with delegates. This included PangolinSG Co-Chair, Dan Challender and Red List Authority Focal Point, Carly Waterman who presented on the global conservation status of pangolins following recent assessments of the global status of each pangolin species for the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM. It also involved Dan Challender presenting on international and domestic trade in pangolins and their derivatives and a presentation on pangolin captivity issues delivered by Nguyen Van Thai, Leanne Wicker, Lisa Hywood, and Frank Kohn of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
All members then actively engaged in working groups formed on the second day, and which were asked to make specific recommendations on the conservation, status and monitoring of pangolins, the management and implementation of existing laws, regulations and policies (include legal harvest and trade and captive stock), and enforcement and compliance (including illegal harvest and trade and cross-border laundering). The PangolinSG action plan ‘Scaling up Pangolin Conservation’, which was released last year, was a crucial document to inform working group discussions. On the third day all delegates had the opportunity to review recommendations from their working group before providing feedback to a plenary session on the recommendations from the meeting.
In addition, the PangolinSG was also asked specifically to help Pangolin range states in their efforts to conserve and manage pangolin populations by undertaking three initiatives. These include (1) mapping the legal protection afforded to pangolins across range states in Africa and Asia, along with the distribution of each species and legal and illegal trade routes, (2) developing husbandry guidelines for maintaining pangolins in captivity, and (3) developing methodologies with which to accurately and reliably census pangolin populations, and members of the PangolinSG are already working on these important initiatives.
The full set of recommendations from this first of its kind meeting will be published in due course, and should help guide the conservation of pangolins. Dan Challender, Co-Chair of the PangolinSG said “this was an important meeting and bringing together pangolin range state delegates and relevant pangolin experts should help in fostering international collaborations to the benefit of pangolin conservation. In 2014, the PangolinSG published its ‘Scaling up Pangolin Conservation’ action plan, and the recommendations from this meeting have the potential to complement these actions and help deliver pangolin conservation globally.”]]>
The #WorldPangolinDay campaign profiled the eight pangolin species, engaged hundreds of new followers, and raised upwards of US$1,000 in donations towards the PangolinSG’s conservation goals.
February 2015 also coincided with the third anniversary of the PangolinSG. The group was established in 2012 to address the growing threat facing all eight species of pangolins. Below, we provide a summary of diverse initiatives undertaken by members of the PangolinSG to help raise awareness of these increasingly threatened species.
Eight Days of Pangolins
To build momentum and participation on social media, the PangolinSG counted down to #WorldPangolinDay with eight days of Tweets and Facebook posts celebrating the
eight species of pangolins, starting with this Temminck’s ground pangolin’s adorable mud bath:
Chinese New Year fell on February 19th, giving us another reason to celebrate the Chinese pangolin:
Media and Partner Support
CNN’s John Sutter published a superb blog post where he encouraged support of the PangolinSG and offered “7 Ways to Celebrate World Pangolin Day” as part of his Change the List project.
Pump It 4 Pangolins challenged everyone to crunch and roll their way to fitness and awareness, and generously encouraged donations to the PangolinSG.
PangolinSG Third Anniversary Milestones
Throughout World Pangolin Day we featured key accomplishments and milestones for the PangolinSG on social media in celebration of our third anniversary.
Importantly, we highlighted our 2013 conference to kick start #ScalingUpPangolinConservation, hosted by Wildlife Reserves Singapore, as well as the publication of our Scaling Up Pangolin Conservation Action Plan, which prioritizes critical actions to conserve pangolins.
PangolinSG Members Celebrate World Pangolin Day
Best of all, World Pangolin Day afforded us an opportunity to shine a light on our members, with round the clock tweets and posts celebrating the work of our quorum of more than 70 technical experts from around the world including field biologists, zoologists, veterinarians, geneticists and social scientists.
PangolinSG members across pangolin range states celebrated World Pangolin Day. Members in Africa launched The African Pangolin Working Group in the days leading up to the event, and further celebrated with radio interviews and news articles in South African newspapers.
Zimbabwe’s Tikki Hywood Trust partnered with Swift Transport to launch a pangolin campaign with a corporate social responsibility message.
Our members mobilized across Asia to kick start conservation actions for pangolins. Louise Fletcher facilitated a workshop in of Brunei Darussalam for NGO, government, and university and school student participants focused on designing a strategy for the conservation of the Sunda pangolin in partnership with the British High Commission and 1Stop Brunei Wildlife.
Edge Fellow Ambika Khatiwada organized and hosted a World Pangolin Day round table in Kathmandu. 75 participants including researchers, conservationists, government officials, and media representatives attended the 3 hour program to brainstorm solutions to pangolin conservation challenges.
PangolinSG members at Taipei Zoo created a World Pangolin Day video to highlight their important research into husbandry and conservation breeding.
The IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group works to conserve pangolins every day. Please continue to follow our Facebook and Twitter feeds as we highlight the work of our members and work to conserve pangolins throughout the year.]]>
“It is during our travels through Namibia, Zimbabwe and Vietnam, that we became aware of the alarming situation of the pangolin. In 2012, after meeting Lisa Hywood and Maria Diekmann, the photographers of PPNat decided to raise awareness about pangolins, and to promote the conservation NGOs helping the pangolin. The AFPAN, organizers of this festival, immediately responded enthusiastically and gave their full support to the ‘Plight of the Pangolin’ project, and help represent pangolin conservation on a global scale.” say Elyane and Cedric Jacquet, co-founders of PPNat.
Through PPNat’s invite, the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group attended alongside other key stakeholders The Tikki Hywood Trust, Save Vietmam’s Wildlife, R.E.S.T. (Rare and Endangered Species Trust) and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia. Many of these NGOs received donated medical supplies and field equipment handed over at the festival.
A centrally located stand gave the majority of the 45,000 festival-goers access to information about the pangolin, highlighting the plight they face. With 95% of those visitors unaware of what a pangolin is, this was a huge step in raising the awareness for this animal. Several artists from several countries supported the plight of the pangolin, making some stunning pieces of artwork in brush, charcoal and pencil. These artwork pieces are being sold to raise money for conservation organizations doing field work.
Lisa Hywood (Tikki Hywood Trust), Chris Shepherd (TRAFFIC Southeast Asia) and Louise Fletcher (IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group), all shared their experience talking about their fight in the protection of this extraordinary animal. This culminated in a fascinating conference ‘What’s the future for the pangolin?’
Louise Fletcher, presenting on behalf of the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group, spoke about her experience releasing rehabilitated Sunda pangolin in Vietnam with Save Vietnam’s Wildlife. This was further supported by literature from the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group’s recently published action plan ‘Scaling Up Pangolin Conservation.’ Fletcher highlighted the need for field work on both wild and released individuals to improve conservation efforts and the importance in continuing to develop rehabilitation and release programs that are applicable to all eight species.
Lisa Hywood beautifully described her experience over the past twenty years with the African species and in particular the ground pangolin, speaking about the dedication required for the successful rehabilitation of individuals rescued from the illegal trade. Something which her organization, The Tikki Hywood Trust, has experienced tremendous success in having just released their 26th rescued pangolin over the past two years. The Tikki Hywood Trust believes that all range state countries need to improve the implementation of their own wildlife laws and work towards getting all 8 species of pangolin up listed to CITES Appendix I which will offer this species further awareness and protection.
The presentation by Chris Shepherd from TRAFFIC Southeast Asia put the shear extent of the trade network involved in the trafficking of this species into perspective. Shepherd emphasized the need for increased enforcement for the successful protection of this species, fully supporting the work achieved in Zimbabwe as an example of what should be implemented range wide. Shepherd also highlighted that commercial breeding of pangolins was not a viable option due to the slow reproduction rates and difficulties in keeping pangolins in captivity and the extremely high demand for pangolins. He also cited poor capacity to monitor and regulate breeding operations of any wildlife in Southeast Asia as being another major conservation concern.
Radio and TV interviews caught the attention of national and foreign magazines who are also interested in the fight to save the pangolin and the exhibition will tour to other major nature festivals in Belgium, France and Italy, with the opportunity to exhibit at the Natural History Museums of both Brussels and Paris, and which will help to elevate the animal’s profile.
On behalf of the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group and Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, Louise Fletcher would like to express her gratitude to the members of PPNat and AFPAN for their support and look forward to future collaborations in the fight to save this species.]]>
The action plan outlines strategic actions which are considered critical to the conservation of pangolins globally, and which require urgent implementation, including reducing demand for pangolins among consumers, the strengthening of site protection at pangolin strongholds, helping communities move away from poaching pangolins, and the strengthening of legislation.
The publication of this action plan follows the first ever global conference on pangolin conservation held by the Pangolin Specialist Group, where the status of all pangolins on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species was revised. As a result of these assessments the Chinese and Sunda pangolins are now categorized as ‘Critically Endangered’, the Indian and Philippine pangolins as ‘Endangered’, and all four African species are now considered ‘Vulnerable’, as a result of past and on-going population declines.
This is the result of on-going illicit hunting and poaching of pangolins which within Asia, and increasingly in Africa, is driven largely by market demand in East Asia, where pangolin meat is consumed as a luxury food, and increasingly affluent consumers are willing to pay high prices for it, and their scales which are used in traditional medicines. This trade takes place despite pangolins being protected species in most countries in which they occur, and despite being
listed in CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Appendix II, to which zero export quotas were established in the year 2000 for wild-caught Asian pangolins traded for commercial purposes, in effect a trade ban.
Dan Challender, Co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group, says: “Our global strategy to halt the decline of the world’s pangolins needs to be urgently implemented.
“A Vital first step is for the Chinese and Vietnamese governments to conduct an inventory of their pangolin scale stocks and make this publicly available to prove that wild-caught pangolins are no longer supplying the commercial trade.”
Watch the video accompanying the release of our action plan by clicking here.
Read our press release on the launch of our action plan in full here.