What’s scarier than the goriest slasher film? How about a stuffed tiger fetus? Or what about 45,000 dead seahorses — dried, wrapped in plastic and sitting in a cavernous warehouse full of seized illegal wildlife products?
Frighteningly enough, both – and even worse - can be found at the National Wildlife Property Repository just outside of Denver.
Coleen Schaefer, Supervisory Wildlife Repository Specialist runs the repository for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, providing tours to bring the grim reality of the thousands of animal products trafficked in the U.S. annually. The 22,000-square-foot facility is filled to the rafters with tiger skins, ivory tusks and trinkets, traditional Chinese medicines made from rhino horn and various parts from endangered species.
Good news! Today, the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has voted to protect all eight species of pangolins - small and reclusive scaly mammals being driven to near extinction by unsustainable poaching. Pangolins will be uplisted to CITES Appendix I, which bars international trade and provides for better domestic protection in key countries such as Vietnam and China.
"Rarely has CITES been so united. This action today was much-needed if pangolins are to survive and may be one of the most important outcomes of this meeting," WildAid CEO Peter Knights said from the CITES Conference of the Parties in Johannesburg. "That these proposals to protect pangolins came from countries like Vietnam and were passed with near-unanimous support is highly encouraging. The challenge now is law enforcement and demand reduction, but the uplisting will help both. Penalties will now be much higher in key countries."
WildAid is already engaged in reducing demand in China and Vietnam in celebrity led campaigns and has released footage of pangolin capture and trade. Its report Pangolins: On the Brinkidentifies consumer demand for pangolin scales and meat as the primary driver of the eight pangolin species' sharp decline throughout Africa and Asia.
Demand for pangolin scales (used in Traditional Chinese Medicine) as well as pangolin meat, considered by some as a delicacy, is highest in China and Vietnam. Though there is no scientific evidence to support alleged curative properties or the keratin scales, a 2015 WildAid survey found that 70% of Chinese believe pangolin products have medicinal value; scales are used to "cure" rheumatism, skin disorders and wound infections. In Vietnam, 64% of survey respondents said they had heard about the "curative" properties of pangolin scales.
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.”
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.
HANOI (July 29, 2016) — Celebrities and leaders from across Vietnam are speaking out to save pangolins, the world’s most-trafficked mammals, with the launch of a new WildAid campaign to be broadcast throughout the nation.
Native to Asia and Africa, pangolins are small insectivores that are unique among mammals for their large, overlapping scalesmade of keratin — the same protein found in human hair and fingernails. Consumer demand for pangolin scales (used in Traditional Chinese Medicine) as well as pangolin meat have led to rampant poaching to meet consumer demand in China and Vietnam.
Using WildAid’s proven strategies to reduce consumer demand for shark fin, elephant ivory and rhino horn, the new campaign features a coalition of celebrities, government representatives, diplomats, business leaders and media partners who speak out against the pangolin trade and urge consumers not to buy pangolin products.
Also known as “scaly anteaters,” pangolins are small insectivores from Asia and Africa that are unique among mammals for their large, overlapping scales made of keratin — the same protein found in human hair and fingernails. Consumer demand for pangolin scales (used in Traditional Chinese Medicine) as well as pangolin meat have led to rampant poaching. In fact, the pangolin is considered by many to be the most-trafficked mammal on earth: All eight pangolin species are at risk of extinction.
According to a government press release issued Tuesday, officials seized 259 bags containing about 7 tons of suspected pangolin scales — more than the weight of the average African elephant. The scales were found via routine random inspection of a shipment arriving from Nigeria that had been falsely declared as “660 bags of recycled plastic particles.”
Pangolins are small mammals sometimes referred to as “scaly anteaters” for their defining physical trait: large, overlapping scales composed of keratin, the same protein that makes up human fingernails as well as rhino horns. When threatened, pangolins curl up into a tight ball, a defensive posture that can protect them from predators — even lions.
Also known as “scaly anteaters,” pangolins are small mammals primarily distinguished by hard, overlapping scales made of keratin, the same protein that constitutes human hair and fingernails. Found in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, pangolins are solitary animals that use their extraordinarily long tongues to probe for ants and termites in mounds and decaying logs.
WildAid is proud to be an NGO member of the new United States Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, announced by the White House on Wednesday.
This partnership has three primary objectives:
Raise the public’s awareness of the scope of the wildlife trafficking crisis, including the illegal trade’s devastating impact on elephants, rhinos, tigers and other irreplaceable species, and illegal traffickers’ role in funding global corruption and terrorism;
Reduce consumer demand for wildlife and wildlife products (WildAid’s core organizational mission); and
Mobilize companies to adopt best practices to insure that their goods and services are not being utilized by illegal wildlife traffickers, and to assist in raising public awareness and reducing demand.