The Philippines has received over 2 million international visitors since lifting its tourism restrictions in 2022. Palawan, home of the Critically Endangered Palawan pangolin, has received over 500,000 of those visitors. Many conservationists, including Sabine Schoppe from Katala Foundation, a PCF grantee, believe this increase in travelers may worsen the illegal wildlife trade of Palawan pangolins. Although the illegal wildlife trade in Palawan did decrease during the pandemic—travel restrictions stalled traffickers in transporting contraband—the trade did not stop. In fact, Schoppe believes the pandemic restrictions may have even worked in traffickers favor, stating that, “It has probably helped to make [pangolin trafficking] more sophisticated as online trading and digital payments flourished…An increase in tourism might further surge it.”
As the Philippines reopens, conservationists fear that the demand for the Palawan pangolin will increase as traffickers try to make up for lost time. Katala Foundation and the PCF will strive to mitigate any potential surge and protect this threatened pangolin species.
Learn more about how tourism affects the illegal wildlife trade here.