NCE leads efforts to curb pangolin smuggling

13 Oct 2017 06:10am
WINDHOEK, 13 OCT (NAMPA) - The Namibian Chamber of Environment (NCE) has embarked on an outreach initiative to inform Namibians about the precarious status of the pangolin, in an effort to halt its illegal trade.
The initiative will mainly consist of sensitisation messages through the media, while a cash reward will be offered to anyone with information on illegal activities concerning pangolins.
A media statement issued by Chris Brown of the NCE on Thursday stated that the initiative will also enjoy the support of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management Support Organisations and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, amongst others.
According to the statement, there has been a marked increase in recent months in the illegal capture, killing and trade in pangolins in Namibia for the markets in Asia.
Brown said illegal pangolin trafficking is so common that all eight species are categorised as ‘threatened’ under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Data listing.
Only one species of pangolin, the Temminck's ground pangolin also known as the Cape pangolin, is found in Namibia.
“We need a collective national effort to tackle the problem of incentivised illegal trade of pangolins to Asia,” Brown said, adding that wildlife crime is an economic and environmental crime against local communities and the nation.
The biggest demand for pangolins, Brown said, is in China, where the scales, made of keratin like human finger nails, hair and rhino horns, are used in traditional medicines and for ornaments and charms.
“The scales have no medicinal properties. It is an Asian myth that causes huge environmental damage and threatens the survival of these species,” he noted.
Pangolin meat is also sold at high prices in East Asia, Brown said.
He called on the public to support the initiative, which will soon be rolled out in various formats.
“We ask all Namibians to please help us keep pangolins alive in Namibia, where they belong and where they provide many important ecological services and not dead in Asia where they are of no value to anyone except criminal syndicates,” he remarked.