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Giant ground pangolin (Smutsia gigantea)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 170515323

Distribution, density, hunting practices, trade dynamics and understanding threats associated with pangolins in Mbam and Djerem national park centre,Cameroon

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 170515323) - Giant ground pangolin - Awarded $4,845 on June 12, 2017Pangolins are threatened with extinction over their global range by poaching, overexploitation and habitat loss. This study was conducted in the Mbam and Djerem National Park (MDNP) to improve current knowledge on the ecology of pangolins and better conserve them. The systematic technique was used and consisted of placing fourteen 2 km long transects perpendicularly from a river. Using line transect and Recce methods, data on distribution, abundance and threats associated with pangolins were collected. Socioeconomic survey were also carried out to have knowledge on trade dynamics and hunting practices in local communities surrounding the MDNP.  561 signs of presence of giant pangolin were encountered during this study. The preferred habitats for giant pangolin were shrub savannah (SA), tree savanna (SAR), colonization forest (CF) and young colonization forest (FCJ).  Kilometer abundance index (IKA) of giant pangolin varies with the seasons: 9.64 ± 0.201 signs/km in the rainy season and 10.35 ± 1.076 signs/km in the dry season. The most common human activities were machete cuts and the density per hectare of giant pangolin burrows were 0.912. The number of signs of giant pangolin presence increases significantly with the distance measured from the river ( = 2.03 ± 0,09 ; Z = 22.54 ; P<0.001), the presence of trails (= 1.77 ± 0.48 ; Z = 3.70 ; P<0.001) and encampments (1.63 ± 0.33 ; Z = 4.9 ; P<0.001) and decreases with bushfires ( =  - 0.44 ± 0.181 ; Z = - 2.42 ; P<0.05), machete cuts ( = - 0.86 ± 0.25 ; Z = - 3.5 ; P<0.001) and dungs ( = - 4.34 ± 0.672 ; Z = - 6.46 ; P<0.001) Concerning the hunting practices, we found snares of artisanal fabrication to be the most used by hunters to catch giant pangolins.  We also found that there is an ongoing illegal trade of meat and scales of pangolins, with the price of a kilogram of scales varying between 18000 xaf and 20000 xaf ($36-40$). Locals were aware of the protection status of pangolins but explained the continuing hunting by their relative poverty and the absence of alternatives income generation activities.  From our results, MDNP would be home to an important population of giant pangolin. Actions must be taken to better monitor identified priority areas  and reinforce surveillances patrols around the MDNP.

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