Pangolin Monitoring Team

Project Partners

Tikki Hywood Foundation, Ellen Connelly & Lisa Hywood

Board Advisor

Renee Bumpus & Colby Bishop

The “EWCL Pangolin Trackers” group assisted their project partner, Tikki Hywood Foundation, to address current biological, ethical, and logistical challenges associated with tracking rehabilitated pangolins in range countries. The group developed a multi-faceted best practices guide for deploying external tracking devices on released and free-ranging individuals: “Advancing Pangolin Tracking Science: A Review of Current Methods and Future Directions.” The guide begins by highlighting findings from the Wilcox et al. (2019) review paper, which compiled all pangolin-related tracking literature through 2017, and then synthesizes the 19 publications that have come out between 2018 and 2023. The guide then presents findings from a survey of pangolin tracking practitioners, focusing on three key themes: device specifications, field logistics, and animal handling and welfare.

We also developed and shared several additional program resources in the appendices, including a scale notching protocol, a protocol for printing 3-D models of pangolin scales (including the models themselves), species-specific anatomy line diagrams, education and marketing materials, and a pangolin tracking practitioner directory. Our hope is that this project helps build capacity, consistency, and competency across pangolin tracking programs and reduces entry barriers for new practitioners to deploy these technologies in additional range countries.

Pangolin Monitoring

    Outcomes

    The aforementioned resources we developed and compiled in the Advancing Pangolin Tracking Science: A Review of Current Methods and Future Directions guide in order to achieve the following objectives and outcomes: 

    •  More consistent animal welfare standards for pangolin tracking. The guide documents and promotes best practices for animal handling and a proposed, new, low-stress marking system applicable across all species (the Pangolin Universal Notching System - PUNS). The guide also includes training resources such as a 3-D pangolin model printing resources and anatomically accurate pangolin species line diagrams that can be used for training, thereby eliminating the need for unnecessary animal handling. 
    • More consistent transmitter use and efficiency across pangolin tracking scientists and practitioners. This was accomplished by summarizing the most recently published (2019) pangolin tracking science literature review and continuing that literature review with papers published between 2018-2023. Our literature review provides an in-depth evaluation of each transmitter type currently in use, while the best practices portion of the guide summarizes recommended strategies for improving pangolin tracking techniques.

    Improved data sharing on pangolin welfare, conservation, and tracking. By creating and publishing PUNS, we will enable the pangolin research and conservation community to standardize scale marking methodology across all pangolin species (including a uniform passive integrated transponder tagging location). Additionally, the recommended centralized code management database for the PUNS system and open-access sharing of 3-D printing models for pangolins (accompanied by a standard operating procedure for printing) and the recommended tissue repository will facilitate better data and resource sharing. Furthermore, by capturing recommendations from experts on pangolin handling (including stress management, transport, and biosecurity considerations). Finally, the guide’s infographics and practitioner directory provide useful resources for pangolin research and conservation practitioners to connect and share their science with the broader public.

    White-bellied pangolin                                                                                                                             Temminck's Pangolin  

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    Temminck's Pangolin Silhouette

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    White-bellied Pangolin

     

     

    Sunda Pangolin                                                                                                                                          Black-bellied Pangolin  

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    Black-bellied Pangolin

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    Sunda Pangolin

     

     

     

                 1. Pangolin scales model

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    Pangolin model sticker

                2. Pangolin with a tracker

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    Pangolin with tracker

     

    Tikki Hywood Foundation: The Tikki Hywood Foundation (THF) is an international non-profit wildlife research and conservation organization with a focus on lesser-known endangered species, such as pangolins. THF was our primary project partner, providing direction, technical expertise, images, and assistance with fundraising. 

    • Sarah Crumb: Sarah Crumb is a mixed-media artist based in the U.S. with a focus on animal illustrations. For this project, she illustrated the anatomically accurate pangolin species line diagrams. 
    • Save Pangolins: Save Pangolins supports pangolin conservation efforts in Africa and Asia and raises global public awareness about pangolins. Save Pangolins helped this project to connect with pangolin specialists and provided photos for use in our materials.
    • Rufford Foundation: The Rufford Foundation is a UK-registered charity that funds nature conservation projects across the developing world.  The foundation provided a grant to our project through the Tikki Hywood Foundation and Wildlife Conservation Network.
    • National Geographic Society: The National Geographic Society is a non-governmental organization dedicated to scientific research, exploration, education, and conservation. During this project, National Geographic Society staff provided a 3-D pangolin scan for use in 3-D modeling and general support.
    • Wildlife Conservation Network: The Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and funding wildlife conservation initiatives around the world. WCN's mission is to protect endangered wildlife by supporting conservationists who ensure wildlife and people coexist and thrive. WCN supported this project through staff guidance and administration of grant funding and agreements. 

    Pangolins have important cultural significance, given the use of their body parts in traditional healing practices and their consumption for sustenance (Boakye et al., 2015). The resulting demand for pangolin products in both food and medicine has clearly established pangolins’ important economic role, which has led to their status as the most trafficked mammal in the world (Hua et al., 2015; Aisher, 2016). In addition to illegal hunting for the wildlife trade, pangolins also face other anthropogenic pressures, including habitat destruction, road mortality, trapping, and poisoning (Pietersen et al., 2014). These combined impacts have  resulted in all eight established pangolin species being listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which is the highest level of international protection a species may be granted. 

    Pangolins are being trafficked not only for their scales but also for their meat, turning a two-fold profit for traffickers. Pangolin meat has been a part of the bush meat umbrella. The demand for pangolin scales has a long history of being used in traditional medicine for a wide breadth of ailments, even after trials have found using pangolin scales for such treatments to be futile across the board.

    Ways you (yes, you) can help:

    • Sharing our notching paper, The Pangolin Universal Notching System: A Foundational Scale Marking Methodology for Pangolins
    • Share our Advancing Pangolin Tracking Science: A Review of Current Methods and Future Directions guide (final hyperlink forthcoming)
    • Spread the word to help make pangolins popular, even if it is just on social media: Visibility and awareness matter, and using hashtags like  #PostAPangolin #SaveThePangolin can help 
    • Support conservation programs that invest in their local communities, education, and increasing health equity
    • Help fund wildlife rangers and rehabilitation centers
    • Say no to pangolin meat #SayNoToPangolinMeat
    • Share information on pangolins with your social and professional networks, including the resources provided on this page
    • Donate to pangolin conservation organizations, such as the Tikki Hywood Foundation or Save Pangolins