Pangolins are the world’s only scaly mammal and are in dire need of urgent conservation action. Eight species occur in Africa and Asia, where they have been exploited locally for food and traditional medicine throughout history. The main threat to pangolins today is hunting and poaching for illegal international trade, increasingly from Africa to Asian markets. Such is the scale of trade that as many as 1 million pangolins have been taken from the wild since 2016. Worryingly, pangolins have been subject to very little conservation or natural history research, and consequently, little is known about their biology, ecology and conservation needs. Despite their importance to local communities as a protein source, their ecological role in tropical forest trophic webs, and their general charisma, pangolins are likely the least-known mammals in the world.
We are researching pangolin basic biology, resource use, and utilization by local communities in Cote d'Ivoire to better support their in and ex situ management. Our specific objectives are: 1) investigating pangolin resource selection (habitat use and prey preference), 2) investigating local community use of pangolins, 3) investigating wild pangolin health and nutrition, 4) building the capacity for pangolin research and management in Cote d'Ivoire, and 5) raising awareness in local communities as a platform for launching a pangolin management strategy.
Our work is providing some of the only data available to date on West African pangolins, ranging from what resources they use and when, to illegal trade dynamics from the region. We are pioneering technological deployments on pangolins, including transmitters, dataloggers and animal-borne cameras, advancing global pangolin research capacity. Through our work we are actively converting pangolin hunters into pangolin conservation advocates. This research will ultimately form the basis of a national pangolin management action plan and will be a platform to raise awareness about the need to protect pangolins throughout West Africa.
Find more information on the Project Mecistops website.