Pangolins around the world have finally received the level of protection they need from the heavy trafficking they are subjected to.
One of the most sought after animals in the south-east Asia because of their meat and medicinal value of their scales, populations of pangolins have been dwindling over the last few decades. These scaly anteaters or trenggiling are highly in demand in many countries including China and Vietnam and because of increased trafficking, their numbers have reached very low levels. There are eight pangolin species and out of these two are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, two are considered endangered, and four listed as vulnerable.
The trade ban was announced at the recently concluded Conference of Parties 17 of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which was held in South Africa. The ban will be applicable on all species of pangolin: four from Asia (Indian, Philippine, Sunda, and Chinese pangolins) and four from Africa (giant, tree, ground, long-tailed pangolins).
Other development at CITES CoP17
Some of the notable successes of CoP17 included decisions to bring new marine and timber species under CITES trade controls, continuing a trend from CoP16 where countries turned to CITES to assist them along the path to sustainability in oceans and forests. The Johannesburg conference was marked by agreement on measures to improve sustainable trade in a number of species, including the queen conch, humphead wrasse, sharks, snakes and African wild dog as well as a large range of timber species, such as bubinga and rosewoods, and the African cherry and agarwood.
Further, the governments also provided impetus to further safeguard threatened wild animals and plants with added protection for the African grey parrot, Barbary Macaque, Blaine’s fishhook cactus, elephant, pangolin and saiga antelope; and well-targeted enforcement measures agreed to combat illegal trade for specific species. These included the African grey parrot, African lion, cheetah, helmeted hornbill, pangolin, rhino and totoaba.
Multiple new animals and plants were also added to CITES Appendices for the first time, and hence will come under CITES trade controls. These decisions affect a large number of mammals, marine and timber species as well as many reptiles and amphibians and include more than 350 species of rosewood, devil rays, silky sharks and thresher sharks.