SAN FRANCISCO (September 21, 2016) — Pangolins, the small, reclusive mammals unique for their armor of overlapping scales, are being driven to near extinction by unsustainable poaching and need stronger international protections in order to survive, according to a new WildAid report and dramatic video of pangolin poaching and trafficking released Wednesday.
WildAid’s new report, Pangolins on the Brink, identifies consumer demand for pangolin scales and meat as the primary driver of the eight pangolin species’ sharp decline throughout Africa and Asia. Despite this, pangolins are not protected under Appendix I of the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which prohibits commercial trade. Officials will consider multiple proposals that call for uplisting pangolins to Appendix I at the CITES Conference of the Parties 17, which begins Friday in Johannesburg, South Africa.
It may come as a surprise to most people that the world’s most illegally traded mammal — far surpassing the poaching and trafficking rates of elephants, rhinos and other high-profile species — is a solitary, nocturnal, scale-covered creature they’ve likely never heard of: the pangolin, commonly known as the “scaly anteater.”
Over the past few years, a growing number of shipping companies and airlines have stepped up to save sharks in one simple yet powerful way: banning shark fin shipments. Multi billion-dollar industry leaders including UPS, Cosco and American Airlines have all clarified their cargo policies to prohibit such shipments.
Now, global advocates are turning their attention to one powerful hold-out: FedEx. Over the weekend, WildAid and our campaign Shark Savers teamed up with Oceanic Preservation Society to support a series of protests at FedEx locations from Hong Kong to Boston urging the company to adopt a fin-free policy.
International wildlife trafficking is worth an estimated $10-20 billion per year annually, making it one of the world’s largest illicit trades after illegal drugs, arms and human trafficking. The United States is a chief consumer of wildlife products (both legal and illegal), but a recent poll commissioned by WildAid found 80 percent of Americans know little or nothing about illegal wildlife trade within the United States. As a result, travelers often are unaware that products they bring into the United States are prohibited.
This week marked the beginning of a fresh start for Casquita, an Olive Ridley sea turtle in Ecuador. Accompanied by children from the local community, Casquita triumphantly made her way back to the sea after recovering from injuries inflicted by a boat propeller and malnutrition.