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White-bellied Pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 222517709

Safeguarding the world’s most trafficked mammal: Surveying and tracking White-bellied Pangolins to strengthen conservation decision-making and improve Pangolin survival

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 222517709) - White-bellied Pangolin - Awarded $11,000 on May 30, 2022

The Atewa Range Forest Reserve  a critical ecosystem within the Upper Guinea forest eco-region is home to the Endangered, White-bellied Pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis), as well as the Black-bellied Pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla, VU).  Covering an area of 23,663ha, the Atewa Forest has been categorized in the top 2% of all protected areas in the world for biodiversity resilience to climate change. Although the forest has international designations such as Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) and Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) status as well as being nationally wholly protected with several other conservation designations, the forest is continually under threat from illegal hunting, logging and mining. These activities further threaten not only the critical habitat of pangolins but also the very survival of an already fragile species. 

The project therefore aimed at safeguarding the world's most trafficked mammal, pangolins through surveying and monitoring the species. Specific  objectives the project sought to achieve are:

1. To improve protection of White-bellied Pangolins and their critical habitats by strengthening the knowledge and understanding of the White-bellied Pangolin population numbers, movements, and locations of strongholds within the Atewa Forest through fortnightly data collection and monitoring by a team of 6 people to produce evidence that will help guide conservation decision-making and focus monitoring efforts

2. To deter poaching, trade, use and consumption of Pangolins by establishing a patrol system and training and equipping an Atewa Forest Anti-poaching Patrol Team of 4 people to consistently patrol the Atewa Forest, the Pangolin strongholds, and the bushmeat market centres twice a month, and to detect and report threats and illegal activities to the authorities

3. To strengthen post-rescue rehabilitation of White-bellied Pangolins by providing a secure space for rescued Pangolins to be vet-checked and cared for, and by establishing a post-release tracking and monitoring system.


Key activities undertaken to achieve these objectives included:

 1.Establish White-bellied Pangolin monitoring protocols to support ecological and habitat data collection and recording.

 2. Establish and train Ecological Monitoring Team

 3. Establish, train and equip an Atewa Forest Anti-poaching Patrol team to enhance surveliance 

 4.Establish a Pangolin Rehabilitation Centre on the edge of Atewa Forest


Key Outcomes of the project include:

1. Improved knowledge on pangolin habitat and ecological needs through data collection by  monitoring team members

2. The arrest and prosecution of 3 persons for illegal logging by the anti-paoching team

3. The establishment of a rescue and rehabilitation centre at the A Rocha Ghana Kibi office

4. The rescue, care and release of 18 pangolins within the Atewa forest enclave 

5. Idenitifcation of hotspots of activities that can further undermine pangolin conservation efforts, thereby informing decision making strategies to curb these actions

6.  Increased awareness creation on pangolin conservation using data collected by monitoring teams.

 The success of the project attracted additional funds to support pangolin awareness creation.  Project Challenges:The project did not encounter any major challenges. However due to insufficent funds, the proejct had to revise some of its intended activities such as implementing a geo-tagging post release monitoring system to only cater for a rescue and care rehabilitation centre.  Recommendations:  • The monitoring and anti-poaching teams should be resourced to continue with the monitoring and surveillance, particularly covering areas that could not be covered under this project.• The Pangolin Rescue center can be developed further to include educational materials thereby making it a learning space for other conservation awareness efforts particularly with the schools.• The post-release tracking devices should be explored further and prioritized in the near future when there are funding opportunities. 


Project documents