The African Pangolin Working Group (APWG), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation and awareness of all four species of African pangolin, will be formally launched on 19 February 2015 — just two days before World Pangolin Day.
The APWG is the official African representative of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Pangolin Specialist Group and, as such, undertakes trade monitoring, research, rehabilitation, law enforcement and community projects across multiple African states. It was established in 2011 and registered with the South African Government in 2013.
“The African Pangolin Working Group is an organisation of like-minded people with a passion to conserve this rare and endangered species. Through this group we hope to bring a conscious change towards the protection of this shy and enigmatic animal – the Pangolin!”, says Lisa Hywood, Tikki Hywood Trust (Zimbabwe) and founding member of APWG.
Pangolins are hunted in Africa for bushmeat and traditional medicine. Hywood explains that African pangolins are under additional pressure as the Asian pangolin species have already been hunted to near extinction. “Africa has become Asia’s new harvesting ground to meet the insatiable demand for pangolin and their body parts.”
According to the APWG website:
Pangolins in Africa are under increasing threat from man. Every year numerous individuals are illegally exported to Asian markets while many more individuals are traded domestically, are accidentally killed on electrified game fences and on roads. The current rate of consumption is believed to far exceed the reproductive potential of the species, with the result that these species are being pushed ever closer to extinction.
At the moment, trade in African pangolins mostly goes unnoticed. The Working Group believes that public support for spreading pangolin conservation awareness is crucial for the conservation of this elusive and under-studied group of animals.
“With our official launch in February, we hope to reach a global audience to highlight the plight of these mammals and bring the world’s attention to a group of animals that face a very real extinction crisis if a concerted effort is not made to reverse their rapid decline,” said the APWG’s Co-Chairs, Darren Pietersen and Raymond Jansen.