China’s Largest Seizure of Pangolin Scales, Despite Global Ban, Demonstrates Need for More Action to Curtail Demand

Friday, 1 December, 2017

(Washington D.C. – 30 November, 2017) Yesterday, Chinese Customs announced they had seized 11.9 tonnes of pangolin scales – the largest seizure of pangolin scales to date – from a ship in Shenzhen in July. As a leader in a coalition of over 20 groups who worked successfully to list all eight species under Appendix I of CITES and as co-author of the technical petition to list the pangolins under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), issued the following statement:


“We commend China Customs for this monumental seizure. It has become tragically common news when an enormous shipment of pangolin scales is seized, representing tens of thousands of slaughtered pangolins. However, China Custom’s investigation and arrest of the alleged smugglers is a step in the right direction.


There is no question that pangolins are suffering deeply at the hands of traffickers. This most recent incident is another example of why we need stronger penalties and tougher enforcement of protections for these animals immediately. Enforcement needs to be improved both in source countries in Africa as well as transit and destination countries.


All countries including Australia, must adopt a clear policy, combined with vigorous enforcement and meaningful penalties for wildlife traffickers.  Only last year, there was a collective will at the CITES Conference of Parties in Johannesburg, South Africa to better protect the pangolin by listing all eight species under Appendix I, thus creating a global ban in international commercial trade that went into effect in January.


However, tougher restrictions and enforcement represent only one component of the equation. More has to be done to reduce demand for wildlife body parts be it pangolin or elephant, lion, rhinoceros parts and products. All wildlife, whether endemic to Australia or not, matter to people and the natural world they inhabit. We have won hard-fought victories to protect these unique species but more needs to be done so we don’t see pangolins go extinct within our life time.”

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
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Faye Cuevas, Esq.
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Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
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Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
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Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
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