Conservation of Pangolins given hope at inaugural ‘Scaling up Pangolin Conservation’ conference

Today (24th June) marks the start of the first ever global Pangolin conference organised by the IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group and Wildlife Reserves Singapore. Entitled ‘Scaling up Pangolin conservation’ the conference will last four days and aims to develop a conservation strategy as well as provide input to the IUCN red list to reassess the status and further protect the species.

Pangolins, or ‘scaly-anteaters’ as they are known, are one of the most trafficked mammals globally. The majority of this trade is to China and Vietnam where they are considered a delicacy and their scales are used in traditional medicine. Due to the magnitude of this and other threats the IUCN-SSC (International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission) Pangolin Specialist Group was established in 2012. The specialist group is made up of 50 researchers and pangolin experts including several members of staff from the EDGE of Existence and the Zoological Society of London.

Professor Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Programmes Director at the Zoological Society of London and Co-Chair of the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group said, “This is a landmark event in pangolin conservation, we will have 50 researchers from around the world gathered to set a road-map for conserving pangolins over the next decade. Especially important here is formulating ways to reduce demand for pangolins in Asia.”

Currently there are two pangolins featured on the top 100 EDGE mammals list, number 91 the Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) and number 92 the Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica). This number could potentially increase in the future if the extinction risk is upgraded on the IUCN red list. There are currently two EDGE Fellows working in-situ to study and conserve both pangolin species.

Phuong Tran is based in Vietnam where he is developing release protocols for trade-confiscated Sunda pangolins. This work is vital to ensure that confiscated animals have the best chance of survival through rehabilitation, health checks and post-release monitoring.

In Nepal, EDGE Fellow Ambika Khatiwada is studying the Chinese pangolin where he hopes to obtain baseline information of the status, distribution and ecology of the species. Ambika also work with local communities to mitigate the threats faced by the Chinese pangolin.

This conference represents the first stage in developing comprehensive conservation strategies for these truly unique species. This is vital to ensure the long term survival of the species.

To read more about the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist group visit their website here

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