|Town/Region||Odzala-Kokoua National Park|
|Categories||Hunting, Mammals, Trade|
|Date||13 Aug 2018|
Pangolins are considered the most illegally trafficked mammals on the planet at this moment. They are increasingly under threat due to huge demand for their meat, skin and scales. In addition, their low reproductive rate and densities make them even more sensitive to over-exploitation. There are eight species of pangolins worldwide and three of them (Smutsia gigantea, Phataginus tetradactyla, Phataginus tricuspis) are found in the Republic of the Congo. Despite the fact according to IUCN they are categorized as vulnerable and international trade of them is banned, populations of pangolins are still being hunted and depleted. It is crucial to get more baseline information about these highly endangered species for effective conservation management. Understanding of local beliefs and attitude towards these unique animals is one of the ways in which this can be achieved.
The study will be realized in cooperation with the Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of the Congo where we will visit the villages situated in close proximity to the park. We plan to conduct a questionnaire survey with local hunters, villagers or market traders to get more knowledge about pangolins which will be helpful for the future conservation efforts of pangolins in this area. Our results will enable us to better understand the motivations of people who hunt pangolins there and provide the essential information about the general knowledge and attitudes of local people towards pangolins. A necessary part of the research will be also monitoring and evaluation of population characteristics of pangolins that may be observed in the villagers or markets. According to standardized measurements the population structure of hunted pangolins can be determined. To supplement data from the questionnaires, possible obtained samples of pangolins (scales, tissue, saliva, etc.) will be transported to the genetics laboratory in the Czech Republic and evaluated as well. The important part of the study will be dedicated to education and increasing awareness of local people about the conservation status of pangolins.
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