Jakarta, Indonesia, 21st December 2017—Indonesia, one of the last strongholds of the Sunda Pangolin, has lost up to 10,000 pangolins a year to illegal trade despite significant enforcement success, finds a new TRAFFIC study.
In Scaly Nexus: Mapping Indonesian pangolin seizures
, TRAFFIC researchers found an equivalent of 35,632 pangolins had been seized in 111 enforcement cases over the six-year period from 2010 to 2015.
The volume of pangolins and parts seized annually varied greatly throughout the study period, ranging from an equivalent of 2,436 to 10,857 pangolins per year.
Data showed that Indonesia functioned mainly as a source country for pangolins, with domestic seizures accounting for 83% of the 111 cases studied. Authorities also identified or arrested a minimum of 127 suspects linked to those cases.
All trade in wild caught Sunda Pangolin Manis javanica specimens is prohibited under the law in Indonesia which is home only to this species of pangolin.
“This is a reminder that Indonesia’s wildlife is being drained on an industrial scale to feed the global illegal trade,” said Kanitha Krishnasamy, Acting Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia and a co-author of the report.
“While the relatively high number of seizures and arrests speaks to the Indonesian government’s commitment in tackling the problem, it also highlights the relentless poaching pressure in one of the most biodiverse countries in the world.”
The high pressure on Sunda Pangolins was evident in Indonesia’s placement among the top 10 countries involved in international illegal pangolin trade last week with the release of a separate TRAFFIC study on global pangolin seizures during the period 2010–2015. The finding was in relation to the number of seizure incidents and quantities Indonesia was implicated in.
Further, the massive seizures have continued outside this study period, with at least 21 seizures in Indonesia since 2016, including a 2.5 tonne seizure of pangolin meat in October 2016.
“The Sunda Pangolin is Critically Endangered and therefore considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild—it simply cannot take this level of persecution,” said Lalita Gomez, Programme Officer and co-author of the report.
Sumatra was found to be a hotspot for the trade in this study, with the island topping the list of places recording the most seizures. This island also served as a key link in the illegal pangolin trade between Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, with the city of Medan in North Sumatra appearing to act as a major collection site before export.
China and Viet Nam were implicated as destination countries, while Malaysia was reported to be the most prominent transit country in the movement of pangolins from Indonesia.
Only one record was found implicating Indonesia as a potential transit country, where a shipment of pangolin scales originating from Cameroon was seized in Jakarta in January 2015.
Considering the history of large-scale pangolin seizures, and the pangolin’s average seven-year generation span, its populations are likely to be in decline as a result of the trade, the authors said.
The study recommended enhanced monitoring, investigation, stronger multi-agency co-operation as well as greater awareness for prosecutors and the judiciary as part of the efforts necessary to address the trafficking threat.
For further information, contact:
Elizabeth John, Senior Communications Officer for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia
Tel: 03-7880 3940 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Richard Thomas, TRAFFIC Global Communications Co-ordinator
Tel: +44 7921309176 Email: email@example.com