Johannesburg, South Africa—Humane Society International/Africa and the African Pangolin Working Group have received donations from four leading Chinese businesses and community organizations in South Africa to purchase telemetry tracking units, receivers and antennas for monitoring pangolins. This is the first time that Africa-based Chinese businesses and civic groups have contributed specifically to pangolin protection. Pangolins, poached to meet a demand for their scales and meat in Asia, are a protected species and are considered the most trafficked mammals in the world. South Africa has emerged as one of the few countries in the world with dedicated efforts for pangolin rescue and rehabilitation.
HSI/Africa, the African Pangolin Working Group and the Johannesburg Veterinary Wildlife Hospital work together to rehabilitate and release pangolins rescued from poachers destined for the illegal trade. The sponsored tracking units will be deployed on the rescued pangolins before they are released back to the wild, enabling the conservationists to monitor their movement and behavior. Close monitoring will give these imperiled animals the highest chance of survival post release, and significantly contribute to the scientific knowledge pool of these elusive creatures.
The donations were presented during the Africa-China Wildlife Conservation Conference organized by the China-Africa Reporting Project of the University of Witwatersrand and partners Global Max Media Group, China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation, Nature Guardian Wildlife Conservation Centre and China House. The Conference focused on wildlife conservation and environmental preservation and aimed to build a platform for deeper dialogue and intervention between Chinese communities in Africa and wildlife conservation organizations. Humane Society International was one of the sponsors of the conference.
“As the largest destination for the illegal trade in pangolin specimens, China must step up to the plate to protect the world’s most trafficked mammal and send a clear message that this trade is unacceptable,” said Audrey Delsink, executive director of HSI/Africa. “These generous donations are a vital boost to our pangolin conservation project and reflect a keenness by the Chinese community in South Africa to be part of global efforts to protect pangolins. We hope that the wonderful support we’ve received from these Chinese groups will create a ripple effect and help generate more awareness both here and in China to reduce demand for pangolin scales and parts. Pangolins need all the support they can get.”
“If we want to reverse the global poaching and trade in pangolins, then those countries that serve as primary destinations for these animals need to be actively involved in making a firm stand in the prevention and reduction of this trade,” said Professor Ray Jansen, chairman of the African Pangolin Working Group. “Today, for the first time, China has shown a commitment to pangolin conservation in South Africa, a significant step towards the conservation of Africa’s pangolins from a country that witnesses the large majority of pangolin trade.”
Mr H.E. Lin Songtian, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of South Africa, gave a keynote speech at the conference. Ambassador Lin said “for the Chinese citizen, no matter whether he is in China or anywhere else, the Chinese government follows the policy of ‘zero tolerance’ on any crimes against wildlife. We fully support South Africa and other African countries to strictly punish all these crimes according to law, and we strongly call upon judicial and law enforcement institutions of South Africa and other African countries to stop the practice of allowing criminals get off prison sentences by paying a rather small fine. We are prepared to strengthen cooperation with South African law enforcement, enhance information sharing, and jointly introduce toughest measures to punish and deter these criminal activities”. Frances Craigie, chief enforcement director of the Department of Environmental Affairs, spoke on behalf of the South African government.
HSI/Africa has rescued 12 pangolins during the last two years in collaboration with the African Pangolin Working Group and Johannesburg Veterinary Wildlife Hospital. A young male pangolin named Silver, who was rescued from the trade, was released back to the wild the day before the conference took place. Of the eight species of pangolin, four are listed as vulnerable, two as endangered and two as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. For more information and regular updates on pangolin rescue and rehabilitation in South Africa, visit hsi.org/world/africa/ and follow HSI/Africa on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Media contacts: South Africa: Leozette Roode, Media and Outreach Manager, Humane Society International/Africa, firstname.lastname@example.org, +2771 360 1104. United Kingdom: Wendy Higgins, Director of International Media, Humane Society International, email@example.com