Posts Tagged ‘WorldPangolinDay’

Pangolin Love

Posted on: February 18th, 2017 by Save Pangolins No Comments

Today is World Pangolin Day – a time to celebrate some of nature’s most unique and loveable animals. But it is also a day for action. The desire for their meat and scales is driving pangolins to extinction, right when many people around the world are only just discovering they exist. If we don’t come together – online and in the real world – we stand to lose an animal that has been on this planet for 80 million years.

Pangolins are gentle, insect-eating mammals about the size of a house cat. They have long faces with no teeth and a sticky tongue that is longer than the length of its body when unfurled. Each pangolin can devour up to 70 million insects per year by some estimates.

There are eight species of pangolin – four in Asia and four in Africa. Some climb trees using prehensile tails. Others use their strong limbs and long claws to dig burrows underground. They are nocturnal, secretive, and they are disappearing.

It is their most unique trait that is also their biggest threat. Their bodies are covered in overlapping scales – think of a walking pinecone. The scales have long been used as an ingredient in traditional medicine in east Asia. And although it is believed pangolin scales can treat a variety of ailments, there has yet to be any scientific backing to substantiate this. In fact, pangolin scales are made of keratin, the same protein that makes up human fingernails.

Pangolins are timid, which makes them both difficult for researchers to study in the wild, and also susceptible to poachers. They roll up into a ball when frightened, and while their armor-like scales protect them from predators – even lions – they are powerless when hunters stuff them into sacks and ship them alive, ready for transport in their natural scaly packaging.

Pangolins are shipped through a global network of illegal wildlife traffickers, destined for mainly Chinese pharmacies and restaurants, where the consumption of their meat and scales is considered a luxury and demonstration of wealth.

Image: A Sunda pangolin in Vietnam. © Suzi Eszterhas

As a result, the levels of illegal pangolin shipments is staggering. IUCN’s SSC Pangolin Specialist Group estimates that since 2012 more than 20,000 kg of scales from African pangolins bound for Asia have been seized, which translates to somewhere between 5,000 and 30,000 pangolins. One record-breaking seizure, by Hong Kong officials in June of last year, consisted of 4.4 tons of pangolin scales. The shipment originated from Cameroon and we estimate it contained up to 6,600 pangolins.

That is just the tip of the iceberg. We do not know how many illegal shipments make it past officials each year. At this pace, the future of the gentle pangolin does not look good.

But there is hope.

An emerging field of pangolin conservationists is working to stop the killing, the trafficking, and the demand for pangolins. In September, pangolins gained the highest levels of protection under CITES with the decision to uplist all 8 species to Appendix I. Now, international commercial trade in all 8 species of pangolins is prohibited, and members of the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group, which we were proud to help reform in 2012, are leading pangolin conservation efforts around the world.

With increasing trafficking targeting African pangolins, there are emerging efforts to train and equip pangolin conservationists in Central Africa. MENTOR POP (Progress for Pangolins) is an international effort to build capacity within Central Africa to combat the pangolin trade there. Funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and hosted by the Zoological Society of London, MENTOR POP is changing the story of pangolins in Central Africa, and we are proud to partner with this program.

Public awareness is growing too. When Save Pangolins was founded in 2007, we created the first website dedicated to pangolins, which was the only one at the time. Since then, the pangolin trafficking crisis has been highlighted by the BBC, CNN, The New York Times, and Google. Perhaps you saw the wonderful Google Doodle during Valentine’s Day which spread #pangolinlove and introduced pangolins to an even wider audience.

But our work has only just begun and it will require a global effort.

You can get involved today on World Pangolin Day by spreading the word about pangolins. Please join us in keeping the #pangolinlove alive not just today but throughout the year. Tell people about pangolins. Show them photos and videos. Share this post. Write your own ode to pangolins. And if you can, make a donation to the emerging pangolin conservation efforts. Together, we can save pangolins from extinction.

 

Paul Thomson is the co-founder of Save Pangolins

World Pangolin Day – The MENTOR POP Program is Building Tomorrow’s Pangolin Leaders

Posted on: February 19th, 2016 by Save Pangolins 1 Comment

Today is World Pangolin Day, an opportunity to celebrate some of the most fascinating animals on Earth, and also some of the world’s most threatened. More than one million pangolins have been poached from the wild over the past decade, making them the most illegally trafficked mammals in the world. As a result, all eight species of pangolins are threatened with extinction.

But there is hope. Today we celebrate the emerging heroes who are working to conserve pangolins. Nine African and Vietnamese conservationists have been selected for the 2016 MENTOR-POP Fellowship program – a new initiative that builds capacity for conserving pangolins. Based in Yaoundé, Cameroon, the 15 month MENTOR Progress on Pangolins (POP) Fellowship will develop a trans-disciplinary team of early-career conservation practitioners to champion the conservation of pangolins in Central Africa.

The nine MENTOR POP Fellows undergoing training in Cameroon to become leaders in pangolin conservation.

The MENTOR POP Fellows undergoing training in Cameroon to become leaders in pangolin conservation.

The MENTOR POP program is a collaborative effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Zoological Society of London. Save Pangolins Co-Founders Paul Thomson and Keri Parker are playing key roles in the program—Keri developed the program concept with colleagues at USFWS, and Paul is one of four ‘Mentors’ from the international pangolin conservation community selected to train, support and guide the fellows through their adventures and work in Cameroon. He will provide on-site training in a variety of topics from conflict transformation to adaptive leadership and community-based conservation methods.

Why Central Africa? There are three species found here: the white-bellied tree pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis), black- bellied tree pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla) and the giant ground pangolin (Smutsia gigantea). The Asian pangolin species have been declining rapidly due to the demand for their meat, which is considered a delicacy. Plus, their unique scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine. As the demand continues to grow, and the Asian species are becoming scarcer, many traders are turning to the African pangolin species. In addition, the African pangolins are threatened by the regional and local bushmeat trade. Very little is known about the impacts of these compounding threats on the African species, and conservation efforts have been minimal.

Building a team of nine MENTOR POP Fellows is a promising approach to tackling the pangolin issue. The young pangolin champions will receive both academic and field-based training, internships, and experiential learning in best conservation practices. The Fellows will design and implement team projects to address the gaps in knowledge about pangolins in Central Africa and the threats to their survival. By cultivating future leaders with the skills, knowledge and networks to tackle the threats facing these species, there is hope still for pangolins.

> Click here to download a factsheet on the MENTOR POP program and to read about the Fellows

How to help pangolins on World Pangolin Day 2016

Posted on: February 19th, 2016 by Save Pangolins No Comments

Tomorrow is World Pangolin Day – an annual event to raise awareness about pangolins, the alarming threats they face, and the inspiring efforts to prevent them from going extinct.

We will be posting throughout the day on our Facebook and Twitter pages – so please look for us there.

How can you help pangolins on World Pangolin Day?

  1. Raise awareness online. Use the hashtags #WorldPangolinDay and #SavePangolins on your social media. Few people know about pangolins, so the more we raise awareness, the more we can do for their conservation.
  2. Tell your friends and family in real life. You know what’s a great conversation at a party? Pangolins! People love learning about cool creatures that may seem fictional but actually share this planet with us. Brush up on your pangolin facts here. And check out CNN’s great article here.
  3. Make a donation to Save Pangolins. 100% of your donation goes directly to pangolin conservation efforts. Or buy Save Pangolins gear at our online shop.
  4. Support our partners in conservation.
  5. And remember, don’t ever eat or buy pangolins or their parts!