First ever conference by IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group and Wildlife Reserves Singapore to be a global voice in the protection and conservation of pangolins.

Pangolin and young

Pangolin and young

Singapore/London, 19 June 2013 – Wildlife Reserves Singapore and the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission (IUCN-SSC) Pangolin Specialist Group have come together to organise the first ever global conference on the rather shy, nocturnal pangolins which for years have been under threat from poachers for their meat and scales.

Themed ‘Scaling up Pangolin Conservation’, the four day conference from 24 – 27 June held at Night Safari aims to devise an overarching conservation strategy to improve their conservation efforts with specific and measurable initiatives, and to provide input into formal IUCN Red List assessments to reassess their status to further protect the species.

Professor Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Programmes Director at the Zoological Society of London and Co-Chair of the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group said, “This is a landmark event in pangolin conservation, we will have 50 researchers from around the world gathered to set a road-map for conserving pangolins over the next decade. Especially important here is formulating ways to reduce demand for pangolins in Asia.”

While they may look like walking pine-cones, pangolins, or scaly-anteaters as they are also known, are one of the most trafficked mammals in Asia, and increasingly, in Africa. Globally, they are illegally traded in their tens of thousands each year.

This trade is primarily to China and Vietnam where they are considered a delicacy and their scales used in traditional medicines. In response to the magnitude of trade and other threats including loss of habitat and ill-considered land management practices, the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group, an expert group of pangolin conservationists, was established in February 2012.

“Rapid action is urgently needed if pangolins in Africa and Asia are to be conserved given the rate at which they are being exploited for East Asian luxury markets,” commented Dan Challender, Co-Chair of the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group and doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology.

The inaugural pangolin conference is part of Wildlife Reserves Conservation Fund’s (WRSCF) efforts to conserve endangered native wildlife. Since its inception in 2009, the Fund has supported various projects and conferences.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer at Wildlife Reserves Singapore said, “For years WRS has been working on helping our critically endangered species locally, via research and captive breeding. We are very pleased to co-organise and host this event, bringing together the foremost pangolin experts in the world, striving to find a strategy that will help this group of unique animals globally.”

To further raise public awareness to the plight faced by the pangolins, a free for public seminar will be held on 28 June from 12.30pm – 4pm at the Forest Lodge in Singapore Zoo with a series of four talks by experts:

  1. Trade in wildlife for meat and medicines pushing Southeast Asian species towards extinction by Chris Shepherd, Acting Regional Director for TRAFFIC in South-East Asia
  2. From the IUCN SSC and new technology for addressing illegal wildlife trade by Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Programmes Director at the Zoological Society of London and Co-Chair of the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group
  3. The pangolin trade in Asia by Dan Challender, Co-Chair of the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group and doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology
  4. Pangolins of Singapore: In situ and ex situ conservation efforts by Razak Jaffar, Assistant Curator, Night Safari, Wildlife Reserves Singapore

As there are limited seats to the public seminar available, interested participants are advised to RSVP by 21 June to Yap Xinli at xinli.yap@wrs.com.sg.

Additionally, to extend the message on pangolin conservation even further to the visitors at Night Safari, an outreach programme has been planned. Visitors to Night Safari on 21, 22, 28 and 29 June will be able to hear more about pangolins from the keepers at a short 15minute session starting from 9.15pm at the Pangolin Exhibit along the Fishing Cat Trail. Over the years, Night Safari has fine-tuned captive management of these unassuming creatures and has achieved a global first: The world’s first institution successfully to breed and raise the Sunda pangolin in captivity.

The ‘SCALING UP PANGOLIN CONSERVATION’ CONFERENCE has been made possible thanks to the generous support of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund, the Zoological Society of London, San Antonio Zoo, the Houston Zoo, TRAFFIC and Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong.