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August 31, 2016

Motion to protect pangolins passes IUCN World Conservation Congress

World’s most heavily trafficked mammal finds wave of support among world conservation leaders

Natural Resources Defense Council, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Wildlife Conservation Society, Humane Society International

  • A pangolin from Tikki Hywood Trust's rescue centre in Zimbabwe

The IUCN World Conservation Congress, the world’s largest gathering of conservation leaders, has passed a motion outlining a path to broader protections for all eight pangolin species. Its adoption through the first-ever online voting process of IUCN was by a majority of both government and NGO members.

Pangolins, small mammals resembling anteaters with tough overlapping scales that form a protective armor, are the most illegally-traded mammal in the world, with more than 1 million poached for their meat and scales over the last decade. They are found in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The motion, originally submitted by Natural Resources Defense Council with 18 co-sponsors and supported by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Wildlife Conservation Society, Humane Society International and a diverse range of other governments and NGOs, urges all IUCN Members to support transferring all eight pangolin species from Appendix II to Appendix I of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) at the 17th meeting of the Conference of Parties to CITES.

Additional elements in the motion include urging governments to prevent the usage of pangolin from illegal sources through education and strict monitoring; and urges all IUCN members, pangolin range states and other stakeholders to support efforts to tackle all threats to pangolins through increased protection and law enforcement, conservation research, awareness raising, education and other actions.

“The number of pangolins being slaughtered for their meat and scales is sickening,” said Elly Pepper, deputy director of NRDC’s wildlife trade initiative. “These animals aren’t a delicacy or a medicine; they are living, breathing creatures that won’t be around much longer if we don’t do something soon. It’s critical that the conservation world – and delegates at CITES – increase protections for all eight species of pangolins if we want to ensure their survival.”

“Pangolins have silently been killed and trafficked for far too long, literally bringing them to the brink of extinction” said Jeff Flocken, North American regional director, IFAW. “We thank IUCN members for recognizing the grave situation affecting the species and look forward to their continued support at the CITES conference next month.”

“We are grateful for the passage of this motion and are optimistic that it will help secure much-needed protections pangolins deserve to stop the overexploitation and curb illegal trade in these vulnerable species,” said Rebecca Regnery, deputy director, Wildlife, HSI.

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“The IUCN Congress, which takes place only every four years, provides an outstanding opportunity to promote the conservation and protection of wildlife. WCS, a member organization of IUCN, welcomes the decision of the global IUCN membership to recognize the threatened status of both African and Asian pangolins, particularly due to international trade. We welcome the support of the IUCN membership for action to conserve pangolins, including the inclusion of these species in CITES Appendix I, which will ban all international commercial trade in the species and stimulate enhanced enforcement efforts,” said Dr. Susan Lieberman, vice president for international policy, WCS. 

This comes following the U.S. government decision from earlier this year which ruled that an endangered listing for pangolins may be warranted.

Media contacts:
HSI: Raul Arce-Contreras, 301.721.6440, rcontreras@humanesociety.org
IFAW: Matt Sutton, 915.227.5680, Matt@rosengrouppr.com
NRDC: Kimiko Martinez, 310.434.2344, kmartinez@nrdc.org
WCS: Nat Moss, 917.922.4670, nMoss@wcs.org

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