• DAY 311: I CHAT TO ONE OF THE WORLD’S PANGOLIN EXPERTS – WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

    Aug 2nd
    Mother and baby

    Mother and baby pangolins

    Reluctantly I have to say goodbye to Lucky and the rest of the pangolins as I move on with this year. Let’s hope it is not forever. By most accounts these magnificent creatures have limited days left on our planet.

    I feel deeply moved  and somewhat helpless by my brief encounter with a magical animal that has done nothing to harm us and we have done so much to destroy it. I’m also becoming uncomfortably angry about the Chinese – which is not useful. So much points to China though…(I heard today that some people in China are now SNORTING rhino horn)

     

    Dan Challender, a key figure in the fight for pangolin conservation

    Dan Challender, a key figure in the fight for pangolin conservation

    Some big news for Pangolins….

    A few weeks ago an unprecedented pangolin event happened. That doesn’t sound exciting if you are planning your friday night at the bowling alley  but it’s big news if you entire family is going to be wiped out: the world’s pangolin experts convened to discuss how to stop the decimation of these species. There are many world pangolin experts.

    I spoke last night to the  Brit who is helping to spearhead this, Dan Challender, who is currently completing a doctoral thesis on the Asian trade of pangolins. Despite clearly being an expert his reasons for getting involved with pangolins were reassuringly down-to-earth

    ‘I decided to study Pangolins because they were kind of crazy. They are fairly shy, they waddle in this comical way, they keep themselves to themselves and they are fairly harmless. So little is understood about them. If the trade continues on the basis of historical harvesting I woudl think we may see the asian pangolin going extinct in 10-15 years’ he says. But he is deeply unsure. So little is known about these creatures, we desperately need more research.

     

    So I asked the big question:

    WHAT CAN WE DO TO STOP PANGOLINS GOING EXTINCT?

    I always thought conservation was fairly straightforward. It involved tigers, whales and rhinos (oh, and the perigrene falcon) and all you had to do was stop people killing the animals by giving the government money. A man stands on the highstreet dressed as a cute tiger holding a cash tin. Job done.

    But Dan explained it was far from simple. The solutions are more complicated than a rubiks cube in a dark room. Every facet has to be examined, reexamined and the complex solutions are interlocked and numerous.

     

    Might these creatures disappear in fifteen years?

    Might these creatures disappear in fifteen years?

    A rescued Sunda pangolin. Photo by FREELAND organisation

    A rescued Sunda pangolin. Photo by FREELAND organisation

    1. SOLUTION 1: STEM DEMAND

    Dan said that crucially they have to lower the demand for pangolins, mainly in China

    And how to do this?

    Social marketing, targeted campaigns, says Dan. But that involves cutting through cultural bias all the noise of a rapidly changing economy belonging to the world’s biggest nation. And who exactly do you have to persuade and how do you measure the results? It requires the skills of a Saatchi marketing genius, the compassionate intelligence of a David Attenborough and the mathematical nouse of Carol Vorderman (maybe not) – all who have to speak fluent Chinese.

    Anyone know anyone?

     

    2. SOLUTION 2: CREATE PANGOLIN STRONGHOLDS

    We know so little about these creatures we are not even sure where they are. We can’t breed them in captivity so must instead find locations where they still thrive and protect those places like fort Knox.

    Money needed for research and protection

     

    3. SOLUTION 3: INCREASE ENFORCEMENT

    Somehow we have to persuade the local authorities to get their act together in stopping and then punishing the criminals. So many criminals still get away with trafficking that the deterrents must be stronger. This is a lengthy diplomatic and political process but will be helped by…

     

    4. SOLUTION 4:  RAISING AWARENESS

    Pangolins suffer from a deeply unsexy image. The giant panda has had a massively raised profile in china. I suspect this is because you can make cuddly toys versions of them to give to children and their big black eyes look like they’ve been punched in teh face. Pangolins don’t go plush very easy.

    I was surprised that Dan said we could do with some celebrity involvement.

    Sad but true, a smiling face of jennifer Ashton can make you stop eating whale fat, the glinting white teeth of brad Pitt stop you devouring shark fins. Quite how that works my tiny brain can’t fathom but clearly it does.

    Basically we need to get the likes of an Obama, or perhaps an ageing Jason Donovan behind the pangolin issue. Actually, let’s not get Jason Donovan. We might loose the pangolins quicker than ever. But you get my point.

    Do you know any celebrities that might come on board?

     

    5. SOLUTION 5: INNOVATE

    Finally Dan said we must all innovate. Come up with ideas to raise awareness and money. Write blogs, make films, paint pictures of pangolins, get things out on facebook, sell t-shirts. This DOES make a difference, however trivial it may seem. So I’m going to think about this and WANT YOUR HELP.

    What could we do to raise awareness?

    Could we make a product to sell?

    How about selling some prints on auction?

     

    FINALLY DAN MADE IT CLEAR THAT MONEY DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

    IF YOU FEEL YOU CAN SPARE ANYTHING TO HELP THE FEW EXPERTS THAT ARE FIGHTING FOR THE SURVIVAL OF THIS WONDERFUL, BEAUTIFUL, HARMLESS CREATURE THEN PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DONATE DIRECTLY TO THE PANGOLIN SPECIALIST GROUP RUN BY DAN

    Live pangolins as they are transported by smugglers.

    Live pangolins as they are transported by smugglers.

     

    Tomorrow: I report on my visit to the secret police store in London housing all the illegally traded wildlife contraband that comes through London. It’s more varied than you might think. Then I move on (reluctantly) to the issue of animals in farms. Gulp

     



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    7 Responses to “DAY 311: I CHAT TO ONE OF THE WORLD’S PANGOLIN EXPERTS – WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?”

    1. I am drawing a pangolin which I hope people will like enough to maybe buy prints of 🙂

    2. Yay! Thanks Lynn. Can’t wait to see it. Can you send it to Martin@yeartohelp.com?

    3. Great post on this very endangered (and endearing!) creature. I have been fascinated with pangolins since I saw one on rather obscure nature series over 25 years ago. Many years passed before I saw a pangolin on TV again. This time I decided to Google them and learn more about their biology and habits. Once I joined Facebook, I ‘Liked’ a couple of Pangolin dedicated groups (Pangorarium and Save Pangolins)and became acquainted with their endangered status and the efforts to save them from extinction. I think one of the biggest obstacles to helping preserve this species is that much of the public has never heard of them. The public donates $$ to save tigers, pandas, whales because it has learned about their plight through extensive media coverage and documentaries. The same needs to happen with pangolins! Widely viewed networks such as the BBC, Animal Plant, and National Geographic Channel need to dedicate programming and produce documentaries to educate a wide audience about these poor creatures. Selling products (t-shirts, mugs, etc.), would also help. Pangolins are way cool critters, and I am sure that they would gather a lot of public support if people knew about them.

    4. Hi Dora

      this is exactly right! Pangolins are such incredible creatures we need to get them seen by everyone. Anyone that has met one will fall in love!

    5. This so horrible. When I was a child, we learnt about the dodo and how people had learned better and wouldn’t extinguish any more species! How many have we wiped out so far?

    6. No one knows, but most of them in Asia have gone.

    7. Will do, its being digitised at the moment and should be getting proofs back this week, it turned out really well, so hopefully people will like it and buy one!

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