Science meets Communities: Working Together for Chinese Pangolin Conservation in Kavrepalanchok, Nepal

Nischal Shrestha

Other projects

17 Dec 2021

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

Nepal confronts significant conservation challenges in safeguarding Chinese pangolins due to a dearth of essential information, despite the species being heavily targeted by trafficking. While the mid-hills of Nepal provide a crucial sanctuary for these pangolins, conservation efforts are hampered by knowledge gap and threats. Community forests in the Kavrepalanchok district, pivotal habitats for pangolins, concurrently emerge as key hubs for illegal trade. Human-driven activities like deforestation, mining, and inappropriate development further compound the loss of their natural habitat, yet status and studies are yet to be done in broader ranges within the district. Urgent action is warranted through advanced techniques, including camera traps, occupancy modelling, and habitat suitability prediction, to amass accurate and holistic data for effective conservation strategies.

Supported by the Rufford Foundation, I conducted an initial study employing camera traps to investigate Chinese pangolins in Panauti municipality within Kavrepalanchok district. This study improved our knowledge of their behaviours and habitats and shown the efficacy of camera traps for studying these elusive creatures. Interestingly, the study's outcomes stretched beyond Panauti's boarders, highlighting the identification of high-occupancy forest zones and potential pangolin habitats dispersed across various municipalities in the district. This emphasizes the immediate necessity of conducting scientific research and effective conservation in these wider geographical and understudied regions. The project’s impact aligns with a multidimensional and sustainable approach, uniting scientific research and community engagement to protect Chinese pangolins and biodiversity. The intended project aims to generate baseline information on Chinese pangolin populations and their habitat in Kavrepalanchok district using camera traps, and to conserve these populations sustainably through local communities. By considering a wider range of study area, we can generate baseline data on the pangolin ecology, identify habitat patches with high occupancy and potential habitats which are crucial to construct site-specific conservation interventions effectively, addressing the distinctive opportunities and challenges that each area presents. This approach will be instrumental in securing the adaptive persistence of Chinese pangolins, with enthusiastic support from the local community.

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