Take pangolins off the menu now!
The pangolin played a tragic role in the COVID-19 pandemic when the deadly virus was believed to have made the leap from pangolins to humans in a Chinese market. Pangolin scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine and their meat is in demand among status-conscious Asian “gourmets”, making them the most trafficked animal ever.News and updates Call to action
To: the governments of China and Vietnam
“Take effective action to stamp out the illicit pangolin trade.”
Researchers believe that the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China was ground zero for the COVID-19 pandemic. Until its closure, numerous wildlife species were kept there, tightly crowded in cages – a rich breeding ground for pathogens. Pangolins sold there are believed to have been an intermediate host for the virus, which originated in bats.
Pangolin poaching and smuggling is a lucrative business, with Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants willing to pay up to $400 for a kilo of pangolin meat. Pangolins have become so rare in the wild that coming across one is not unlike finding a winning lottery ticket for villagers in remote corners of Asia.
Traffickers are frequently arrested while shipping hundreds of live animals or pangolin scales by the ton, but the true magnitude of the trade remains in the dark.
Eight different pangolin species exist in Asia and Africa. All four Asian species are already on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and pressure on the African species is mounting. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has published an interactive map highlighting the international nature of the pangolin trade.
The survival of the pangolin is in the hands of the Chinese and Vietnamese governments – only they can pass and enforce stricter laws to curb hunting and shut down trafficking. Please call on Chinese and Vietnamese policymakers to stop standing by idly while the pangolin is hunted to extinction.Background
As endangered wildlife, pangolins have not received the attention they deserve, even though all eight species of the scaly creature are on the Red List. The situation is most dire for the critically endangered Chinese and Sunda pangolins, which could become extinct within the next fifteen years.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has seen the need to establish a specialist group dedicated to preserving the animal. Hunting and illegal trade are the main forces driving the toothless insectivores to extinction – no other mammal is subject to such extensive smuggling.
The pangolin's scales – which consist of keratin, the same material as human fingernails – are believed to have beneficial properties in traditional Chinese and Vietnamese medicine. The ills they supposedly cure include “excessive nervousness and hysterical crying in children, women possessed by devils and ogres, malarial fever and deafness” (Nature 141, 72-72, 08 January 1938).
Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy and often among the most costly dishes on restaurant menus.
According to some estimates, hunters have killed one million pangolins over the last ten years. Between 2011 and 2013 alone, 23,400 illegally traded animals were confiscated.
Tens of thousands of pangolins smuggled
In April 2013, a Chinese ship with 2,000 live pangolins was stopped in the Philippines. In August 2013, more than six tons of live pangolins were discovered in a shipping container on its way to Vietnam from Indonesia. On May 12, 2014, 956 frozen pangolins were confiscated in China.
On May 28, one ton of pangolin scales with a market value of 645,000 dollars was intercepted by authorities in Hong Kong, making it the world’s largest African pangolin find destined for the Asian market to date.
African species are coming under pressure due to the increasing scarcity of Asian pangolins. The growing number of Chinese living in Africa is also contributing to the problem.
To: the governments of China and Vietnam
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As endangered wildlife, pangolins have not received the attention they deserve, even though all eight species are on the Red List. The situation is most dire for the critically endangered Chinese and Sunda pangolins, which could become extinct within the next fifteen years.
Hunting and illegal trade are primarily responsible for the collapse of pangolin populations. The keratin scales are believed to have beneficial properties in your country’s traditional medicine. In addition, pangolin meat is considered a delicacy and often among the most costly dishes on restaurant menus.
I call on you to take effective action to fight the hunting and illegal trade of these endangered species. Thank you.
Wildlife crime: global seizures and arrests in transcontinental operation
An operation coordinated by INTERPOL against the illegal trade in wildlife has seen hundreds of seizures worldwide as well as suspects arrested. Codenamed Thunderstorm and targeting the networks behind wildlife crime, the operation involved police, customs, border, environment, wildlife and forestry agencies from 92 countries.
265,000 signatures help save pangolins
Great news for pangolins: the member states of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) decided in Johannesburg to afford them the highest level of protection. A complete ban on trade in all eight pangolin species is now in place. Worldwide protests prompted the move.
Petition with more than 265,000 signatures calling for pangolin conservation to be delivered to CITES CoP17 in South Africa
Rainforest Rescue has collected more than 265,000 signatures calling for strict pangolin protection and will deliver the petition to the CITES conference in South Africa.
Scales of more than 1,000 poached pangolins found
Hong Kong customs officials made a gruesome discovery onboard an incoming freighter: four tons of pangolin scales. As traditional Chinese “medicine”, the shipment would have had a street value of $1.25 million. A Rainforest Rescue petition is calling on the Chinese government to strengthen protection for pangolins.
Rainforest Rescue calls for tough pangolin protection measures
Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal in the world – demand for its meat and scales could wipe it out in a few short years. Rainforest Rescue is promoting a petition addressed to the Chinese and Vietnamese governments calling for robust measures to ensure their protection – more than 200,000 supporters have signed it to date.
World Pangolin Day events in Berlin and Leipzig
Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal in the world – demand for its meat and scales could drive it to extinction in a few short years. Join us in taking action to protect them on World Pangolin Day.