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UNEP calls for robust interventions to end illicit trade in pangolins

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By Philippine News Agency

UNEP logo. (Photo credit to Wikipedia) | Manila Bulletin

UNEP logo. (Photo credit to Wikipedia) | Manila Bulletin

Global campaigns aimed at eradicating illegal trade in pangolins deserve fresh impetus in order to save this unique but rare mammal from extinction, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Goodwill Ambassador Ian Somerhalder said ahead of World Pangolin Day to be observed on Saturday, February 18.

Somerhalder said in a recent statement released in Nairobi that poaching of pangolins in African and Asian jungles due to their scales that have medicinal properties could rank similar to the one of rhinos and elephants.

The World Pangolin Day that will be observed on Saturday will raise awareness on the plight of these highly nocturnal and insect feeding small mammals whose survival depends on renewed global efforts to save them from illegal hunters.

Somerhalder warned that rampant poaching and smuggling of pangolins in Asia and Africa by criminal syndicates could drive them to extinction.

“We need to act now not only for the pangolin, but for thousands of other species threatened with extinction by the rising tide of international wildlife crime,” said Somerhalder.

Pangolins have joined a growing list of highly sought after mammals, carnivores, birds and reptiles that generate USD15 to 20 billion annually to criminal syndicates through illegal trafficking.

Somerhalder regretted that illegal wildlife trade is compromising ecological health of nations, their security and development.

“Wildlife crime is eroding the planet’s precious biodiversity and the stability of its ecosystems. It is robbing individual countries of their natural heritage, stealing the assets of local communities that could use them to build tourism business,” Somerhalder said.

He added that robust public awareness and law enforcement at the local, regional and global levels is key to end illegal trafficking of endangered wildlife species like pangolins.

The global campaign to save pangolins gathered momentum in September last year when member states to the UN convention on international trade in endangered species (CITES) declared their trafficking illegal.

Somerhalder was optimistic that the global momentum to save pangolins will be sustained for the long haul if governments and other non-state actors remain committed to this cause.

“Together, our voice is loud and can help make sure these little known but delightful animals, and others don’t become known for wrong reasons-joining the list of species driven to extinction by humanity’s greed and inability to take proper care of the planet,” Somerhalder said.

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