Understanding the Community’s Perception, Distribution and Threats to the Vulnerable Ground Pangolin in the Kenya’s North Nandi Forests

15 Jun 2022 North Nandi Forest, Kenya, Africa Biodiversity | Communities | Education | Mammals

Jackson Kirui

The ground pangolin occur in Kenya and the populations of these species are thought to be in decline across their ranges, thus their classification by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Vulnerable (Pietersen et al 2019). In Kenya, pangolins are perceived to be a symbol of bad omen and such beliefs are threatening their existence. More severe threats are a result of local communities clearing forest land in the quest for economic gain by logging and charcoal burning. It makes one curious about the local community's perceptions of the local forest. Knowing whether these locals support forest maintenance and why, and if not, why not, will be helpful. Until this question is answered, the conservation of species and habitats, and of pangolins will remain a huge challenge. The greatest impediment to conservation efforts is the lack of education of local communities on the effects of extinction of wildlife, economic and social benefits derived from preserving natural ecosystems. Pangolin conservation efforts are hindered further by lack of understanding about the local community's perception and knowledge of the species distribution, and threats to pangolins (Willcox et al., 2019).

To date, there is no empirical evidence that has addressed the pangolin conservation challenges in Kenya. Pangolins are not considered in the Nandi Forests Strategic Ecosystems Management Plan of Kenya, highlighting the lack of a clear plan of action to combat pangolin decline (Forest, 2015). This project will gather data on the species occurrence, conservation threats, people’s awareness and their perception on pangolins. We will use the opportunity to raise awareness to counter prejudice, fear, and raise awareness of the vital role pangolins play in preserving ecosystems. This would guide the formulation of conservation strategies and perhaps strengthen national legislation to protect pangolins.

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