What do pangolins and the Fyre Festival have in common?
You probably know these species by now, their marketing can only be rivalled by the infamous Fyre festival. So many people across the world now know about these unique and extraordinary mammals and also like the Fyre festival, the disaster they face on the ground.
The record shows that over 1 million pangolins have been poached in the last decade.
In 2016, at CITES CoP17 all 8 species of pangolin were uplisted to CITES Appendix I, which means now all international trade is monitored and a vast amount of it is illegal. Despite this international recognition and the reflection in national legislation, pangolins are still under enormous threat.
There have been 4 record seizures in just the past 2 months and 40.2 tonnes of pangolin products have been seized in just 2019! Let’s put that into perspective, in just one of these seizures (Hong Kong Jan 31st) the equivalent of 13,000 pangolins were seized. In January at the Kwai Chung cargo port 8,300 kilograms of pangolin scales were seized, if we take the estimate that 0.5 kg of scales is equivalent to one individual, then this could be up to another 16,600 pangolins poached.
That is 29,600 pangolins from just two of these seizures and there are countless smaller seizures unrecorded and those that escape detection happening across the world.
The fact that we have the political legislation and national laws in place to protect these animals is good, but it is clearly not enough, we need more solutions for pangolins. We need better enforcement to enact these laws, better and continuing behaviour change initiatives to reduce consumer demand, and we need the funding to continue to have successful and efficient operations.
The pangolin might have the Fyre festival PR but let’s face it, also the same downfall.