Motion to Protect Pangolins Passes IUCN World Conservation Congress

World’s Most Heavily Trafficked Mammal Finds Wave of Support among World Conservation Leaders

HONOLULU, HAWAII – The IUCN World Conservation Congress, the world’s largest gathering of conservation leaders, has passed a motion outlining a path to broader protections for all eight pangolin species. Its adoption through the first-ever online voting process of IUCN was by a majority of both government and NGO members.

Pangolins, small mammals resembling anteaters with tough overlapping scales that form a protective armor, are the most illegally-traded mammal in the world, with more than 1 million poached for their meat and scales over the last decade. They are found in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The motion, originally submitted by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) with 18 co-sponsors and supported by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Humane Society International (HSI) and a diverse range of other governments and NGOs, urges all IUCN Members to support transferring all eight pangolin species from Appendix II to Appendix I of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) at the 17th meeting of the Conference of Parties to CITES.

Additional elements in the motion include urging governments to prevent the usage of pangolin from illegal sources through education and strict monitoring; and urges all IUCN members, pangolin range states and other stakeholders to support efforts to tackle all threats to pangolins through increased protection and law enforcement, conservation research, awareness raising, education and other actions.

“The number of pangolins being slaughtered for their meat and scales is sickening,” said Elly Pepper, deputy director of NRDC’s wildlife trade initiative. “These animals aren’t a delicacy or a medicine; they are living, breathing creatures that won’t be around much longer if we don’t do something soon. It’s critical that the conservation world – and delegates at CITES – increase protections for all eight species of pangolins if we want to ensure their survival.”

“Pangolins have silently been killed and trafficked for far too long, literally bringing them to the brink of extinction” said Jeff Flocken, North American Regional Director, IFAW. “We thank IUCN members for recognizing the grave situation affecting the species and look forward to their continued support at the CITES conference next month.”

“We are grateful for the passage of this motion and are optimistic that it will help secure much-needed protections pangolins deserve to stop the overexploitation and curb illegal trade in these vulnerable species,” said Rebecca Regnery, Deputy Director, Wildlife, HSI.

 “The IUCN Congress, which takes place only every four years, provides an outstanding opportunity to promote the conservation and protection of wildlife. WCS, a member organization of IUCN, welcomes the decision of the global IUCN membership to recognize the threatened status of both African and Asian pangolins, particularly due to international trade. We welcome the support of the IUCN membership for action to conserve pangolins, including the inclusion of these species in CITES Appendix I, which will ban all international commercial trade in the species and stimulate enhanced enforcement efforts,” said Dr. Susan Lieberman, Vice President for International Policy, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). 

This comes following the U.S. government decision from earlier this year which ruled that an endangered listing for pangolins may be warranted.


About The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): NRDC is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

About The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW): Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About Humane Society International (HSI): HSI and its partner organisations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organisations. For more than 25 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programmes. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide – on the Web at

About Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS): MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit:; Follow @thewcs, and visit our IUCN page at

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