A day for the endangered Pangolin

* Due to increasing demand for its meat, scales, and derived products, the Indian pangolin remains one of the highest trafficked animals sourced from Pakistan

KARACHI: Nature conservationists around the globe including Pakistan are celebrating 7th World Pangolin Day on Saturday (today).

Pangolin is considered to be world’s most heavily trafficked mammal. It confronts multiple threats across its habitat range worldwide. Every year, on the third Saturday of February, this day has been celebrated since 2012 to highlight the need for conservation efforts to save the population of this endangered mammal.

According to the organisations working on wildlife conservation, the number of pangolins is rapidly declining in Asia and Africa due to poaching and illegal hunting. Over 10,00,000 pangolins have been victims of illegal wildlife trade globally during the last decade, according to the statistics compiled by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Of the eight species of pangolins, the Indian pangolin (Manis crassudata) is found in Pakistan. It is listed as endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species since 2009. Despite being protected under federal and provincial wildlife laws in the country, the species is rapidly declining as a result of poaching for illegal international trade. Pakistan lies along a strategic air, land and sea route, providing a gateway to East Asia, which makes it a major source country for illegal wildlife trade.

IUCN estimates that the global Pangolin population will decrease by around 50 percent over the next 21 years if trends in illegal trade and poaching are not checked

Due to increasing demand for its meat, scales, and derived products, the Indian Pangolin remains one of the highest trafficked animals sourced from Pakistan.

According to IUCN estimates, the global Pangolin population will decrease by around 50 percent over the next 21 years if trends in illegal trade and poaching are not checked.

Dr. Babar Khan, WWF-Pakistan regional head for Sindh and Balochistan, says that poaching, illegal hunting and trafficking of the animal to a few countries including China and Vietnam has drastically reduced its population in Pakistan. He says WWF-Pakistan is working in close coordination with provincial wildlife departments to tackle illegal wildlife trade in the country.

“Pangolin is hunted for its scales, meat and other body parts and products and there is an urgent need for creating awareness among the general public, especially youth, because of their non-familiarity with this animal. Usually, panic is created among the public if a pangolin is located in any settled area,” he says.

Eight species of the pangolin exist in the world, particularly in Asia and Africa. The only specie found in Pakistan is the Indian pangolin. It has been reported from various parts of the country including hilly and sandy areas of Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Punjab. According to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, all species of pangolin are endangered and require immediate conservation efforts.

Published in Daily Times, February 17th 2018.