Wildlife & Biodiversity

World Pangolin Day: Madhya Pradesh radio-tags first-ever Indian Pangolin

Step in order to know species’ ecology and develop an effective conservation plan

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 14 February 2020
A team of researchers observing the world's first-ever radio-tagged Indian Pangolin. Photo: WCT / MP Forest Department

The Madhya Pradesh forest department has radio-tagged an Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) for the first time in order to know its ecology and develop an effective conservation plan for it, a statement on February 14, 2020, said. The radio-tagging is part of a joint project by the department and non-profit, the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) that also involves the species’ monitoring apart from other activities.

“The team has successfully rehabilitated two Indian pangolins in the wild. This is the first-ever case of successful rehabilitation effort of the species where the released individuals are monitored in the wild using telemetry to ensure better success rate,” SK Singh, the chief conservator of forests and field director of the state’s Satpura Tiger Reserve, where the tagging was done, said.

The measure comes as the world gets ready to observe the ninth ‘World Pangolin Day’ on February 15, 2020. It is an international attempt to raise awareness about pangolins and bring together various stakeholders to help protect them from extinction.

Pangolins are currently the most trafficked wildlife species in the world. Commonly known as ‘scaly anteaters’, the toothless animals are unique, a result of millions of years of evolution.

Pangolins evolved scales as a means of protection. When threatened by big carnivores like lions or tigers they usually curl into a ball. The scales defend them against dental attacks from the predators.

However, this unique protection mechanism has now become the main cause of the pangolin’s disappearance. The scales are in high demand in China, where they are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Pangolin meat is also in high demand in China and southeast Asia.

Consequently, pangolins have seen a rapid reduction in population globally. The projected population declines range from 50 per cent to 80 per cent across the genus.

India is home to two species of pangolin. While the Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) is found in northeastern India, the Indian Pangolin is distributed in other parts of the countrys as well as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

 Both these species are protected and are listed under the Schedule I Part I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

However, despite protective measures, pangolins in India are widely exploited and traded both domestically and internationally.

“Given that several pangolins are rescued in the central Indian landscape, this new initiative will hopefully ensure better survival rates of these released individuals in the wild and thus have a positive impact on the population of this endangered species,” Aditya Joshi, wildlife biologist with the WCT, who is overseeing the project, said.

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