New Co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group

March 16, 2021
Photo credits: Sara Kinney

A big congratulations to Matthew Shirley (2016 FFN Award winner) who has accepted the position of Co-Chair for the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group!

In this new and exciting position Matthew will have quite a few new responsibilities. As the Co-Chair, Matthew will be representing the group internationally, organising meetings, and motivating members to support pangolin conservation initiatives around the globe! Matthew has been a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission for almost 15 years, contributing to the Crocodile Specialist Group as Regional Chairman for West and Central Africa and the Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group. He is very much looking forward to the challenge of this new leadership position as Co-Chair of the IUCN/SSC Pangolin Specialist Group.

Photo credit: Gerald Cubitt

Pangolins are unique, but severely threatened animals, found in Africa and Asia. They are poached and illegally traded for their meat and scales, which are believed to have medicinal properties. The IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group is a voluntary network of experts from around the world, including field biologists, social scientists, zoologists, veterinarians, ecologists and geneticists, all of whom are actively involved in pangolin research and conservation. They serve as an advisory body to the IUCN and currently have 148 members from 37 countries around the globe.

Matthew Shirley won the FFN Award in 2016 for his ground-breaking work on the West-African slender snouted crocodile. He works at the Institute of Environment at Florida International University, and is the Director of Project Mecistops. With Project Mecistops, Matthew not only studies and protects crocodiles in West and Central Africa, but pangolins as well. He studies their ecology and health using different tools, such as GPS telemetry and community-based participatory approaches, and develops technology-based solutions to aid in detecting pangolins in the wild and combatting trafficking. Project Mecistops works to ensure future conservation through capacity-building with local conservationists.

Please reach out to Matt directly ( if you are interested in learning more about or directly supporting the activities of the Pangolin Specialist Group!