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

China’s Largest Seizure of Pangolin Scales, Despite Global Ban, Demonstrates Nee
Friday, 1 December, 2017
Washington D.C.

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.

The U.S. government is in a position to do something to help this species, as it evaluates and makes a decision on the technical petition to list pangolins under the Endangered Species Act, submitted in 2015 by IFAW along with the Humane Society International, Born Free and the Center for Biological Diversity.  And the rest of the world already spoke last year at the CITES Conference of Parties in Johannesburg, South Africa by listing all eight pangolin 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 pangolin parts and products. Pangolins, like all wildlife, 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.”

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos are available at

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