Giant ground pangolin (Smutsia gigantea)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 180518743
Habitat, and diet composition preferences as conservation issue of three pangolins species in Mpem & Djim National Park (MDNP)-Cameroon
The three pangolins species found in Cameroon are threatened and classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and listed on Appendix I of CITES (IUCN, 2014; CITES, 2017); this led to an integral protection of these species by the Cameroonian authority in charge of wildlife management (Ministry of Forest and wildlife). Who have listed all these species in class A: that means they are integrally protected against hunting and trade according to Article 6 of N°0648/MINFOF of 18 December 2006 which classifies wildlife in Cameroon into three categories (A, B, C) based on the level of threats (MINFOF, 2017). However, Pangolins species in Cameroon are threatened mainly due to intense hunting for bushmeat and for supplying the international trade of pangolin scale, used in traditional Asian remedies. Habitat loss and fragmentation are additional threats (Challender &Hywood 2012). Like the other pangolin species found in Cameroon (Black-bellied pangolin and White-bellied pangolin), the Giant pangolin population, in particular, is rapidly declining due to over-exploitation in its habitat. There are no data on population size, however, seizures of bushmeat always involve Pangolins meat and scales in Cameroon.
When living Pangolin are found in seizures, the question remains where and in which conditions are they released in the wild. Thus, Pangolins reintroduction programs might benefit from prior, knowledge on their origin, the insect's assemblages, and the vegetation formations of their intend released habitat and especially the presence of prey requires to satisfy the feeding ecology. This project will provide for this three pangolins species their vegetation formations type and their distribution in the study area; a database on the prey species (ants and termites) eaten by these species and where they are found in the different land cover type; and will also show if there are seasonal differences in the types of ants and termites eaten by the three pangolins species. The Mpem & Djim National Park is situated in a forest and savannah intermediary zone; the area is suitable to assess the advance of savanna throughout the forest on Pangolin distribution because the small-scale habitat disturbance reduces food availability and pangolins foraging capacity.
Objectives and activities
(1) In every 250 m along of a 2 km line transect in each land cover type, we will record and identified the plant's species of the study area and other relevant information (slope, undergrowth, canopy open, weather, nearest water distance) to characterize the different type of pangolins species habitats;
(2) In 100 m transect (15 transects) in each land cover type, we will seasonally collect and identified ants and termites species in the various habitat using pitfall and sardine bait for ground ant species and manual sampling method for tree ants species and the termites;
(3) The stomach content of dead pangolins found in ranger seizure around the park will be analyzed to establish the Pangolins diet composition and this insect's prey species will be compared to the reference assemblage of insect collected in the habitats for prey selectivity assessment;
(4) We will seasonally collect and analyzed data from 15 Cameras installed for a period of 60 days and nights trapping in order to determine the distribution of the three pangolins species listed above and assess for the habitat preferences.
Project 180518743 location - Cameroon, Africa