The Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is central to global efforts to tackle overexploitation. WWF will be at its 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) working to secure the best result for the world’s threatened species, including our ‘Big Five at CITES’ – elephants, rhinos, sharks, pangolins and tigers.
Pangolins are regarded as the world’s most poached mammal. Around 1 million have been trafficked in the past decade to meet growing demand for their meat as well as their unique scales, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Now that the four Asian species have been severely depleted, Asian markets are increasingly being fed with African pangolins. Existing CITES rules restrict trade in Asian species but allow regulated trade in the four species from Africa.
Given their rapidly declining populations and the ease with which criminal networks have switched to target African species, all eight of the world’s species should be given the highest possible protection. They should all be listed on Appendix I of CITES, which would amount to a complete ban on international trade in pangolins and their parts.
In addition, CITES needs to agree a suite of tough new measures that will reinforce the ban, including global cooperation on enforcement and demand reduction, and fundraising support.