Thursday, 16 February 2017 00:00

Born Free USA Urges Swift Action to Save World's Most Illegally-Traded Mammal from Extinction February 18 is World Pangolin Day Featured

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Washington, D.C., February 16, 2017 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, is calling on the U.S. Department of the Interior to issue its decision listing all pangolin species as endangered as World Pangolin Day approaches on February 18. In July 2015, Born Free USA and other wildlife groups petitioned the U.S. government to designate seven species of pangolins as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). If granted, the import and interstate sale of all pangolins and pangolin parts would be fundamentally prohibited in the U.S.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “Fragile pangolins are considered the most heavily-traded mammal in the world today, coveted in markets globally for their scales, meat, and other body parts. Concerted and coordinated global action is essential to save them from extinction, and the U.S. has an opportunity to contribute to long-term conservation of all pangolin species with ESA protection. We have no time to lose, and it would be a shameful indictment of conservation leadership if these animals were to disappear while American government paralysis leads to inaction.”

Born Free USA is encouraging the U.S. to act now, following overwhelming votes last fall by the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora, which listed all eight species of pangolins on Appendix I of the Treaty, thus terminating international commercial trade. Most species received CITES trade protection by consensus, and the two Asian pangolin species that received an actual vote had but one dissenting vote.

Roberts adds, “It is estimated that, in the next 21 years, African pangolin species could decline by 30 to 40%, while some Asian species could decline by up to 90%. Although the international community made a great commitment last year to strengthen the protection of pangolins, these efforts will be in vain with no enforcement of new regulations.”

A pangolin is snatched from the wild every five minutes, and at least one pangolin is killed every hour in Asia. Between July 2000 and July 2016, more than one million pangolins were trafficked. Just in the past two months alone, there was a seizure of almost three tons of pangolin scales smuggled into Thailand from Congo and destined for Laos; an arrest of a Tanzanian pangolin smuggler in Uganda with six tons of scales; a seizure in Cameroon of 670 kg of pangolin scales bound for Malaysia; and a seizure in China of more than three tons of pangolin scales, corresponding to about 5,000-7,500 pangolins, in a container labeled as containing timber from Africa.

“These reports are catastrophic. Pangolins have an extremely important ecological role. If they go extinct, there would be a cascading impact on the environment. They are natural controllers of termites and ants, and their loss would be devastating on multiple levels,” Roberts says.

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation”—the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

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