Populations of all eight species of pangolin are being devastated as the Chinese pangolin is hunted close to extinction in the wild for its meat and scales.
Last week, the first global conference on the conservation of pangolins, hosted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature - Species Survival Commission (IUCN-SSC), saw more than 40 conservationists from 14 countries discuss a solution for the global decline of the world's most traded wild mammal.
Professor Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Programmes Director at the Zoological Society of London and Co-Chair of the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group said: “Not only do we need to reduce demand for pangolin parts in East Asia, we also need to ensure there are pangolin strongholds where we can ensure the viability of populations in the wild."
Dan Challender, Co-Chair of the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group said: “Following huge declines in populations of the Chinese pangolin, trade has mainly involved the Sunda pangolin in recent years, which occurs across Southeast Asia, but pangolins are now being sourced from South Asia and as far as Africa to meet demand in East Asia. They are more than likely the most traded wild mammals globally”.
Themed ‘Scaling up Pangolin Conservation’, the conference saw the presentation of recent research into understanding demand for pangolins, ecological monitoring and the latest development in captive care, followed by workshops conducted to formulate a conservation strategy for the next decade. This will involve a number of major initiatives including: research into behaviour change to measurably reduce demand for pangolins through social marketing campaigns, assessment of populations in identified strongholds, the strengthening of legislation in East Asian markets and the stepping up of current enforcement efforts in pangolin trade hotspots.
This conference also saw the status of the world’s pangolins re-assessed for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It was confirmed that populations of each species are in steep decline.