The African Pangolin Working Group was established on 27 June 2011, following an inaugural meeting by a diverse group of people who all have one passion in common – understanding and protecting pangolins in Africa. We are the official African representative to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature – Species Survival Commission Pangolin Specialist Group (IUCN-SSC PSG www.pangolinsg.org). The organisations’ objectives are encompassed by its mission statement:
“The African Pangolin Working Group will strive towards the conservation and protection of all four African pangolin species by generating knowledge, developing partnerships and creating public awareness and education initiatives”
Pangolins in Africa are under increasing threat from man. Every year numerous individuals are illegally exported to Asian markets while many more individuals are traded domestically, are accidentally killed on electrified game fences and on roads. The current rate of consumption is believed to far exceed the reproductive potential of the species, with the result that these species are being pushed ever closer to extinction.
The groups’ activities are multi-faceted, and all aim to conserve these unique and iconic mammals. We have a strong focus on research as this guides direct conservation initiatives while providing concrete information that can be used in the other facets. We also engage with provincial, national and international law enforcement agencies to better protect pangolins through capacity-building and advice. Thirdly, we undertake public awareness campaigns in order to highlight the existence and the plight of pangolins so that people can make informed decisions and we also work closely with rehabilitation centres to ensure that confiscated pangolins are returned to the wild whenever possible. We also engage with national and international NGOs, NPOs, scientists and other role-players, sharing knowledge and working together to ensure the continued survival of pangolins and other threatened species.