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Photo: USFWS / Flickr

Today, Malaysian officials reported they had seized over 700 kilograms of pangolin scales, worth over $2 million, in what is the largest seizure for the country to date. This amount of scales is said to represent roughly 1,400 pangolins being killed. As a leader in a coalition of over 20 groups who worked tirelessly to achieve protections for all eight pangolin species under Appendix I of CITES in September 2016, and as co-author on a technical petition to list the pangolins under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, Mark Hofberg, Assistant Campaigns Officer with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), issued the following statement:

“This seizure is just another example, from a long list of recent seizures, of why stronger protections for pangolins, the world’s most trafficked mammal, are desperately needed.

It seems like every month there is a new record amount of pangolin scales being seized on their way from African source countries to Asian consumer countries. Each of these seizures represents staggering amounts of pangolins being poached. The continued surge in poaching and international trade is fueled by market prices for pangolin scales, which have increased in recent years.

There is hope for pangolins, as just this past fall, all eight species were transferred to Appendix I of CITES, essentially banning the commercial trade of the animals. However, more must be done to ensure that these enormous seizures such as in Kuala Lumpur become a thing of the past.

The U.S. government is in a position to do something to help these species, as it evaluates and decides whether to list pangolins under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). IFAW submitted a petition to list the species in 2015 along with the Humane Society International, Born Free, and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Giving the species the ESA protection it deserves would shine a light on the plight of this little known but imperiled animal.

There is no question that pangolins are suffering deeply at the hands of traffickers – both in Asia and in Africa. If nothing is done to protect these animals, we could be witnessing the extinction of one or more pangolin species in our lifetimes.”

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