ZSL has announced the launch of a new conservation and research project aiming to halt the decline of the Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis). This Endangered Pangolin is only found on Palawan and neighbouring islands, and numbers are estimated to have halved over the past 30 years due to unsustainable poaching for scales, used in traditional Chinese medicine, and their meat, eaten as a luxury food item. Recent price increases for live animals have led to higher numbers being poached and trafficked to China and Malaysia.
ZSL Pangolin Researcher, Lucy Archer said: “Based on recent seizures, we know that the Philippine pangolin is hunted and traded in the region. However, we currently have little knowledge on the intricacies of this trade and the threat it places upon the species. This project will aim to address this by providing new data on the anthropogenic threats the Philippine pangolin faces, in order to help prioritise and plan conservation action.”
Thanks to new generous support from the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and an anonymous donor, the first conservation plan has been developed, pulling in expertise from indigenous peoples, the IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group, Katala Foundation Inc., the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), and experts from around the world. The next steps are to identify key pangolin conservation areas, designate and pilot one of these areas as a Local Pangolin Conservation Area and reduce pangolin trafficking through increased law enforcement at border controls.
ZSL Philippines Country Manager, Godofredo Villapando, said: “We know at least 1,000 Philippine pangolins have been illegally traded since 2000, despite international trade bans. These extraordinary animals represent 80 million years of evolutionary history, yet we know very little about them. We hope this project will help us to understand more about the distribution, abundance and lifecycle of the species, alongside information that will help to reverse their decline”.
To find out more about ZSL’s work on protecting the Philippine pangolin please visit: https://www.zsl.org/conservation/threats/illegal-wildlife-trade-crisis/pangolin-conservation
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