mongabay : Int’l protections not stopping pangolin overexploitation in Cameroon
- A recent report indicates that the 2016 listing of pangolins under CITES Appendix I, outlawing their international trade, is not translating into protections for the anteater-like animal at the local level in Central Africa.
- The study used data gathered from an investigation in Cameroon.
- Pangolins are considered the world’s “most illegally traded wild mammal” by the IUCN, and scientific research in 2017 found that between 420,000 and 2.71 million pangolins are hunted from Central African forests each year.
Pangolins living in Central Africa aren’t feeling the effects of a landmark decision in 2016 to protect them from a ravenous international trade, a report published in July has found.
The decision to protect the eight pangolin species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix I in 2016, outlawing their international trade, was seen as a win for the scaly anteater-like animals, considered to be the “most illegally traded wild mammal” by the IUCN’s pangolin specialist group. Pangolins have long been a favorite target of bushmeat hunters across Africa, but surging demand from Asia for the animals’ scales, which are used in traditional medicines, have driven up hunting pressure on African pangolins.
Until now, however, it has been unclear whether the pronouncements at the 2016 CITES conference have actually made an impact at the level of the countries that are home to pangolins. So researcher Marius Talla and his colleagues at Action for Environmental Governance, an NGO based in Yaoundé, Cameroon, decided to investigate the effects of pangolin protections. With data from Cameroon as a case study, they hoped to get a read on how pangolins are faring across six Central African countries: Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo.
As hunters of Asia’s native species, all four of which are either endangered or critically endangered according to the IUCN, have depleted pangolin populations there, hunting in Africa has risen by at least 145 percent since 1972, according to a study published in 2017 in the journal Conservation Letters. The authors of that study calculated that hunters take between 420,000 and 2.71 million pangolins from Central African forests each year. The IUCN lists the four species of pangolin found in Africa as vulnerable.
Just like in other Central African countries, bushmeat hunters in Cameroon go after pangolins for meat, as they have for a long time, Talla said in an email to Mongabay.
“Pangolin consumption is part of the local culture,” he said. “It is a popular meal (like most bushmeat) especially in forest areas where communities do not have the financial means to substitute bushmeat for other types of meat such as beef.”