Integrating Science and Local Communities for Chinese Pangolin Conservation in Kavrepalanchok, Nepal

Nischal Shrestha

Despite being endangered, there lacks information on various aspects of their ecology throughout Nepal, especially beyond protected areas. Consequently, Nepal Pangolin Conservation Action Plan has placed a high priority on scientific research on Chinese Pangolins, particularly outside of protected areas. Community forests in Panauti, located in the midst of human-dominated landscapes, provide critical habitat for pangolins. However, Nepal's Kavrepalanchok district, along with Panauti municipality, is a significant illegal pangolin trade hub. This underlines the need for scientific and conservation attention in this region. Although several pangolin surveys, including in Panauti, have been undertaken in Nepal, the majority of them are based on indirect sign surveys. Indirect surveys are restricted to habitat preferences and no other ecological features like as population indices and density can be obtained. This demonstrates a severe dearth of information about the fundamental ecological features and emphasizes the need for further research using modern technology such as camera traps.

My study aims to use occupancy modelling integrating camera traps to provide comprehensive baseline information on pangolin ecological characteristics in diverse community forests in Panauti, the first such endeavour. This project addresses the requirements outlined in the Nepal's Pangolin Conservation Action Plan. Taking the project's output into account, the outcomes of this study will allow for the identification of habitat patches occupied by the species, as well as information about places where the species has a high occupancy. Similarly, the project's findings will give baseline information on the species' potential habitat and suggest priority regions for future investigation. This will eventually aid in the conduct of scientific study and conservation projects in underserved yet high-priority locations, as well as in districts where the species' illegal trade is prominent. As a result, when developing site-specific conservation action plans with limited resources and time, this scientific knowledge will be critical in selecting high-occupancy forest areas along with illegal trade prominent area in the study area.

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