2,742Grants to


Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 13056405

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 13056405) - Sunda Pangolin  - Awarded $4,000 on November 15, 2013

The goals of the project are: 

• Verification of whether release into a protected area in Vietnam is a viable option for the placement of trade-confiscated Sunda pangolins and an improved understanding of what factors determine the success/failure of a release program for this species.

• Raised awareness amongst Conservation NGOs, Rescue Centres and Wildlife Confiscation Authorities on the need for well-planned release programs for Sunda pangolins.


• To establish a viable population of Sunda pangolins in Cat Tien National Park through the release of rehabilitated, trade confiscated animals.

• To improve knowledge on the conservation requirements of Sunda Pangolins.

• To identify/suggest suitable survey methods for this species. 

• To improve the understanding and protection of Sunda pangolins by Forest Protection Department rangers.


Significance and Impact of the proposed project:

When a live pangolin is confiscated from trade by the Forest Protection Department (FPD) there are three placement options: maintenance in captivity, euthanasia or release into the wild. Many confiscated pangolins are released directly after confiscation with minimal or no health checks and with no post release monitoring. 


Through the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program’s (CPCP) own experience with confiscated pangolins, many are dehydrated, nutritionally-stressed, carrying diseases and/or have trap-related injuries.  Releasing an animal in this condition is a poor placement option risking the welfare of the animal and exposing wild populations to disease and genetic pollution. CPCP is establishing a set of practical procedures for the placement of confiscated pangolins by evaluating the success of a release program. 


As a secretive, solitary and nocturnal animal, observations in the wild are rare and ecological data is limited. By conducting monitoring on release candidates, using VHF radio telemetry, CPCP is gathering important ecological data that can be used to inform the conservation management of the species: including home range size; fluctuations in range size and stability in response to seasonal changes and potential interactions with other released pangolins; and den site selection and fidelity. 


Despite Sunda pangolins historically being found in a variety of locations and altitudes there is no comprehensive population estimate available for this species (Duckworth et al. 2008) and no standardised or recommended surveying method testing for species presence/absence or abundance.  


This project has already rehabilitated and released three pangolins and has three more ready for release. The ecological data will be used to suggest parameters for future surveying techniques to determine the probability of presence (an occupancy model) of this species at a study site. Recommendations will be made regarding the duration of survey effort; frequency of repeated surveys; size of surveying area. Furthermore, the a priori knowledge of home ranges and distribution of CPCP’s released animals provides the opportunity to test these surveying methods and preliminarily investigate if the detection rate of individuals using camera trapping. 

Project 13056405 location - Vietnam, Asia