Pangolins in Uganda

The pangolin is now the most heavily trafficked wild mammal in the world. In Uganda, enforcement groups have reported a sharp spike in the numbers of arrests of ‘small-time’ poachers, coupled with significant larger seizures of pangolin scales.

There is an urgent need to increase the knowledge and understanding of the pangolin population in Uganda, as well as the threats to these vulnerable animals. We also need to establish how improved and targeted enforcement action can best address the current challenges.

How we are helping to protect the pangolin

In March 2017, DSWF launched funding for a new project aimed at achieving the following goals:

  • Development of a national policy statement to support the Uganda Wildlife Authority’s (UWA) enforcement work and response to the new CITES legislation
  • Identification of Safe Release Zones (SRZ) for pangolins in Uganda
  • Training of enforcement officers in pangolin Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and provision of rescue kits to relevant organisations

This will lead to the increased protection and conservation of pangolin species in Uganda and improved implementation of the recent up-listing at CITES*. Longer term project goals include DNA mapping, development of a national seizure database and a community run rescue and rehabilitation centre.

You can help support this important work by donating today.

DSWF has been supporting conservation work in Uganda since 1998, working to increase the network of ranger stations and reduce wildlife crime. We currently fund elephant and lion projects in the country.

More about pangolins: Of the eight species of pangolin in the world, four are native to Africa. Uganda is in the unique position of potentially being home to all four of these species, but there is a significant knowledge gap across the whole country.

The main threats to pangolins in Asia are poaching and illegal hunting driven largely by an illicit international trade in the animals for their meat and scales, commonly destined for China and Vietnam. Here, the meat is consumed as a luxury dish in expensive restaurants and the scales are used in medicines believed to cure a range of medical problems – including helping lactating mothers to secrete milk, to cure skin diseases and to improve blood circulation. In Africa the mammals are sought for bush meat or for their scales to be used in a wide variety of ethno-medicinal and spiritual uses, as well as a developing inter-continental trade in African pangolin parts, mainly scales, to Asian markets.

*CITES: At the CITES Conference of Parties in 2016, African pangolin were up-listed meaning all eight species are now on Appendix I of the convention, and trade is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. This was a significant step for the species and now needs to be enforced, starting with those countries with significant populations and illegal trade hot spots.

Banner image courtesy Andrew White

Live pangolin found in a sack as part of seizure
Live pangolin found during a seizure

Did you know?

There are eight subspecies of pangolin, four in Africa, four in Asia