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June 24, 2015

Pangolin Range States Meet to Plan Critical Conservation Actions

Viet Nam CITES Management Authority

  • A pangolin in the wild in Zimbabwe. Photo courtesy of Tikki Hywood Trust

Delegates from 29 African and Asian pangolin range countries and the United States joined together for the first time this week to develop a unified conservation action plan to protect pangolins, the most trafficked mammals in the world, at the First Pangolin Range States Meeting. The governments of Vietnam and the United States co-hosted the meeting, which was organized and facilitated by Humane Society International.

Pangolin range states, governmental wildlife and enforcement agencies, non-governmental organizations and pangolin experts met to present and discuss the latest pangolin population and international trade information to respond to CITES-prescribed calls for information and action. The action plan will address conservation, management and enforcement issues to protect pangolins against over-exploitation as a result of trafficking and unsustainable legal trade.

The workshop, conceptualized by Vietnam, was funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with additional monetary and in-kind support provided by Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Freeland. Experts from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission Pangolin Specialist Group shared expertise on pangolins through presentations and working group sessions.

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Viet Nam’s Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Ha Cong Tuan, said: “This three-day workshop is indeed an opportune time to renew contacts and discuss problems that are faced by the Pangolin species with the delegates from all the range states to find out the appropriate remedies and actions that should be taken.”

Claire Pierangelo, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Ha Noi, said: “The United States is proud to partner with Vietnam to lead international efforts to save these species. Today's conference exemplifies how our deepening relationship not only benefits our two countries, but the world community at large, as we work together to tackle the most pressing transnational issues of our day.”

Mr. Phung Tan Viet, Vice Chairman of Da Nang People’s Committee, said: “We are aware of Da Nang’s responsibilities for combating illegal wildlife trade, particularly fostering the implementation of the Prime Minister Directive No.03 at all levels.”

Department of the Interior Acting Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs Lori Faeth said: “Without swift and strategic international cooperation, pangolins will be driven to extinction by trafficking. This first meeting of pangolin range states will result in a unified conservation action plan to protect Asian and African pangolin species from over-exploitation and is an excellent example of the progress we can achieve when partners and governments come together to develop progressive conservation strategies. The U.S. Department of the Interior is proud to work with Vietnam and other CITES parties in cooperation with partners like Humane Society International to combat wildlife trafficking and conserve imperiled species.”

Dr. Teresa Telecky, director of the wildlife department for Humane Society International, said, “We are thrilled to see countries with pangolins meet to cooperate with one another to reduce the international trafficking of pangolins for their scale and meat. It’s an important step in preventing the extinction of this over-exploited animal.”

To learn more about pangolins, visit the Service’s webpage here.

Facts:

  • Pangolins, or scaly anteaters, are small to medium-sized, nocturnal, ant and termite-eating mammals found in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa whose bodies are covered with scales made of keratin, the same protein that forms human finger nails and rhino horn.
  • Pangolins are threatened by unsustainable and illegal international and domestic trade of their scales, which are used in traditional Asian medicine, and their meat, which is considered a luxury food in many cultures. Experts estimate that more than one million pangolins have been traded illegally in the past decade. Pangolins in general do not thrive in captivity, and their slow reproductive rate and low natural density in the wild suggest that current trade levels are unsustainable.
  • Poaching and illegal trade in pangolins continues at a high rate despite international and domestic wildlife protection laws. Commercial international trade in Asian pangolins is technically banned under CITES, and many countries have laws that prohibit capture and domestic trade in pangolins.

Media contacts:
Viet Nam CITES Management Authority:
Nguyen Minh Thuong, +84-912-538-958, nguyenminhthuong.vnforest@gmail.com

Humane Society International:
Raúl Arce-Contreras, +1(301)721-6440, rcontreras@humanesociety.org

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