Assessing the status and threats to the Nigerian white-bellied pangolin

Charles Agbor Emogor

The white-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis) is one of the world's most heavily trafficked, yet least understood wild mammals. P. tricuspis populations are thought to be declining, and their survival is threatened by habitat loss and poaching for their meat and scales, which are consumed locally and internationally. Of the four African pangolins, P. tricuspis is the most traded, with Nigeria being recently identified as the major trafficking hub in Africa. To understand threats and possible conservation actions, we will assess hunting patterns (offtake) from the Cross River National Park (CRNP) using a standardised questionnaire. Furthermore, to gain insights into pangolin ecology, we will investigate the home range size and activity pattern of P. tricuspis in the CRNP using VHF tags. Investigating pangolin home range size concurrently with their offtake level is crucial in understanding whether current hunting pressure is sustainable or not. Finally, we will conduct a pangolin awareness-raising intervention with local communities and facilitate the development of a two-year action plan for the management of pangolins in the CRNP. Together, we aim to understand and reduce the local hunting pressure of pangolins, provide vital information needed to target future conservation actions and establish long-term monitoring programmes for P. tricuspis.