Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal in the world and classified since 2014 as threatened with extinction on the IUCN red list of threatened species.
New urgency has followed with reclassification under CITES. All eight pangolin species are listed under Appendix I the highest level of protection afforded by the treaty and recognition that the species is now threatened with extinction.
The trade is driven by demand in Asia, notably China, and Vietnam, where pangolin meat is consumed as a delicacy and for social status, and scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine. African pangolins are being targeted for intercontinental trade to Asian markets. One of the largest recent seizures of pangolin parts discovered in Hong Kong, contained scales from Africa in transit to Asian destinations.
The threat of illegal trafficking is further compounded by habitat loss facing the species.
However, with very limited data regarding status of populations, habitat, hotspots for poaching, and those doing the harvesting and trading, it is difficult for authorities to target trafficking routes and key transit points.
The Pangolin Conservation Project:
The Pangolin Conservation Project, funded by David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, is the first in Uganda. It works with UWA and other conservation partners, to improve capacity, locate release zones within the national parks and support UWA with proper equipment for rescuing confiscated pangolins.
The project focuses on conservation of the four pangolin species found in Uganda: Tree/ White bellied pangolin – Phataginus tricuspis, Giant Pangolin – Smutsia gigantean, Cape/Temminck’s Ground Pangolin – Smutsia temminckii, and the Long tailed- Black Bellied Pangolin – Phataginus tetradactly.
There is also increasing need to better protect pangolins that are being rescued and recovered in Uganda. Due to limited capacity in handling live specimens, some of the rescued pangolins do not make it safely to the wild and die in transit. The project thus carried out the first training on pangolin handling facilitated by the Tikki Hywood Trust and UCF.
Empower UWA, local partner Natural Resources Conservation Network, and police with specific training needed to improve survival rates of confiscated pangolins.
Handover to UWA, and other organizations proper equipment to improve survival rates of confiscated pangolins.
Identify at least two safety release zones within Murchison National Park.
To date UCF’s pangolin project has rescued xx pangolins, returned xx to the wild, trained xx wildlife rangers in handling the mammals and xxxx
For those with access to the BBC’s iplayer, you can learn more about these delightful but endangered mammals, in this BBC documentary.