Between 1st and 10th September more than 10,000 participants gathered in Honolulu, Hawai’i for the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 – Planet at the Crossroads. Among the array of conservationists, researchers, practioners and academics present, were a small number of IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist (PangolinSG) members. Each of us was there to champion the conservation of pangolins and although we were few in number, we worked hard to grab people’s attention and interest in pangolins at the various events focused on the species. These included a knowledge café on pangolin conservation, two evening receptions in the U.S pavilion, one of which included a talk by Dame Jane Goodall; and an event in the species pavilion which entailed broadcasting a video produced by a large proportion of the PangolinSG membership showcasing some of the work our members have done in the last 4 years, or the last IUCN quadrennium (2012-2016).
Before each of these events took place however, IUCN’s members, State and non-state collectively, adopted a motion for an IUCN Resolution on greater protection for pangolins. This Resolution urges IUCN members to support proposed actions at CITES CoP17; urges governments to prevent the use of pangolin products from illegal sources through education and strict monitoring; and urges IUCN members, pangolin range states and other stakeholders to support pangolin conservation efforts including through increased protection and law enforcement, conservation research, awareness raising, education, and other actions in order to secure the conservation of pangolins, including through IUCN SSC PangolinSG action planning.
The Resolution also explicitly recognises the efforts of the PangolinSG in the last 4 years on behalf of the world’s 8 pangolin species and highlights the need for multi-faceted solutions to deliver their conservation. As the PangolinSG video hopefully demonstrates, the group is already working on multiple fronts and I’d like to think we are doing some things right and heading in the right direction. I’m also confident others agree following the work of the group being highlighted at various events at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawai’i, including mention by CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon and former SSC Chair Simon Stuart in his Commission report to the IUCN Members Assembly.
The Pangolin Specialist Group was established in 2012 and though we’ve made good progress on ‘Scaling Up Pangolin Conservation’, the apt name for our conservation action plan, there is much to do in the next IUCN quadrennium if we are to take pangolin conservation to scale – that is to catalyse and achieve conservation actions commensurate to mitigating the threats pangolins face globally, primarily overexploitation/illegal trade, and measurably reducing their extinction risk.
With a diverse membership of 100 members from over 25 countries around the world, I’m confident that we will achieve some great things for pangolins in the 2017-2020 quadrennium as we seek to take pangolin conservation to scale. The work begins in earnest next week in Johannesburg, South Africa at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES. Pangolins come up in a number of agenda items at the meeting, including proposals to transfer the species from Appendix II to Appendix I, and are the subject of proposed resolutions and decisions. Like in Hawai’I a number of our members will be there and will be working hard to do what they can for the world’s pangolins.
Dan Challender, Co-Chair, IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group