We're helping to protect the planet’s most trafficked mammal!
The red panda is a landscape or umbrella species for the Eastern Himalayas. Our programs that conserve red pandas help to save over 20 mammal species, including clouded leopards, marbled cat, Himalayan black bears, and pangolins.
The Critically Endangered Chinese pangolin shares habitat with red pandas in the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung (PIT) region of eastern Nepal — and RPN is committed to conserving them both.
Pangolins play an essential ecological role. They help regulate the insect populations by consuming ants and termites to maintain balance in the ecosystem. Pangolins, known as scaly anteaters, are the only mammals with large protective keratin scales covering their body.
Unfortunately, pangolins have been identified as the most trafficked mammal in the world. In Nepal, the pangolin is hunted and poached for its flesh and scales. The Pangolin trade is widespread throughout Nepal, with seizures recorded from 27 districts between 2010 and 2020, including Makwanpur district (mainly in the Bagmati Province).
Project Pangolin is a community-based research, education (including youth outreach), and conservation initiative launched in 2020 based on our pangolin presence-absence survey results in the PIT region. In 2021-2022, we completed a presence-absence survey of Chinese pangolin where we surveyed and consulted with people in 11 villages in Ilam district, ten villages in Taplejung district, and 24 villages in Panchthar (eastern Nepal) on where this species can be found and how we can conserve them.
Participants of pangolin conservation workshop in eastern Nepal.
Their answers, along with site visits and field studies, allowed us to establish important population baseline data, confirm the presence of pangolins, and design a community-based pangolin conservation program. A camera trap survey of Chinese pangolins in Ilam districts also provided valuable data on their behavior.
We have made other progress with Project Pangolin! We hired and trained local people as Pangolin Guardians to monitor pangolins and their habitat. We also educated 47 local students, four teachers, and 31 community members in Sulubung, eastern Nepal, on the importance of pangolin conservation.
Students and teachers in eastern Nepal who were educated on pangolin conservation.
World Pangolin Day is celebrated every third Saturday in February to raise awareness about the urgent need to save pangolins from extinction.
In 2018, the Government of Nepal developed the “Pangolin Conservation Action Plan for Nepal (2018-2022)." Still, most of the interventions for pangolin conservation are short-term projects that lack sufficient funding.
To implement more sustainable initiatives, we are collaborating with Small Mammals Conservation and Research Foundation (SMCRF), which has been involved in World Pangolin Day since 2017. SMCRF's achievements include awarding a research grant to support pangolin conservation, publishing two books, including a Pangolin Monitoring Guideline, and offering a small mammal research fellowship.
Another significant outcome of World Pangolin Day is the establishment of the first Community Managed Pangolin Conservation Area, covering around 700 hectares, in Makwanpur, Nepal, where pangolin numbers appear to be increasing. There have also been discussions about long-term collaboration between government and community stakeholders to protect pangolins.
Future pangolin and panda conservation advocates of Nepal!
This year the 12th annual World Pangolin Day will be celebrated on February 18th, 2023. One event will be at the Pangolin Friend Garden in Rapati, Manahari, Makwanpur (Nepal), where the local Division Forest Office (DFO) has created the “Pangolin Friendly Garden” that features pangolin information, paintings, and other art. There will be a peaceful rally with about 200 local students and stakeholders to raise awareness about pangolins and an educational art exhibition to promote pangolin ecotourism and sustainable livelihoods. Another objective is to have the pangolin declared the "Pride Animal of Makawanpur District” to support sustainable conservation and livelihoods.
We are delighted to celebrate World Pangolin Day 2023 with you! Check out Project Pangolin for more information on our efforts to save this critically endangered species.