An international group of experts has launched a new website devoted to pangolin conservation and research. Pangolins, insect-eating mammals found in Asia and Africa, rank among the world’s most imperiled mammals and are threatened by illegal trade and habitat loss. The website, www.PangolinSG.org, is the official site of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC) Pangolin Specialist Group. The SSC is a global network of volunteer experts working to conserve biodiversity. More than 120 Specialist Groups are currently active in the SSC.
The recently formed Pangolin Specialist Group consists of scientists, veterinarians, and conservation professionals. The 65 members aim to curb the loss and decline of wild pangolin populations by identifying and promoting strategic conservation solutions and informing effective domestic and international governmental action.
Pangolins are highly evolutionarily distinct. All eight species of pangolin have protection under national and international laws, and two – the Chinese pangolin and Sunda pangolin – are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, earning them a place on the EDGE top 100 mammals list. Experts declare that the rampant demand and illegal trade for their meat and unique scales, which are used in traditional medicine, are driving several pangolin species to extinction.
“Each year, tens of thousands of illegally traded pangolins are seized,” said pangolin researcher Dan Challender, Co-chair of the new Specialist Group. 1,220 pangolins were confiscated in just one recent INTERPOL operation, including one shipment that contained 5 tons of frozen pangolins. “One of the biggest problems facing conservationists is a lack of data on the illegal trade, its routes, its sources, and even pangolins themselves. The new IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group, which formed earlier this year will tackle this problem.”
The PangolinSG.org website serves as an authoritative resource on pangolins by providing conservationists and the public with current information on the animals’ natural history, research projects, and strategies to combat the threats that put pangolins at risk.
The website was unveiled last week at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Korea. The conference connected IUCN members with leaders from government, the public sector, environmental organizations, and the business world to debate and devise solutions for biodiversity conservation. Professor Jonathan Baillie, Director of Conservation Programmes at ZSL and Co-chair of the Pangolin Specialist Group, launched the website to attendees. He reported “Delegates at the IUCN World Conservation Congress welcomed the rapid development of the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group website and the determination of the group to halt the trade of this remarkable group of species”.