Safeguarding the Endangered White-bellied (Phataginus tricuspis) pangolin in Ghana

Agro Prince Pascal Kwadwo Mawuse

Pangolins are regarded as the most traded mammals globally and Africa’s four species are no exception. Pangolins are also considered among the least known mammals in the world in terms of their ecology. Of the African species, the biology and ecology of the two arboreal species, the white-bellied (Phataginus tricuspis) and the black-bellied (Phataginus tetradactyla) pangolin remain a mystery to science. In 2019, the IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group re-evaluated all African pangolin species under the Red List Criteria and determined that white-bellied pangolins qualify as Endangered, a decline in status while black-bellied pangolins remain Vulnerable. Rapid forest loss, high human consumption, and the illicit trade in their scales have pushed these species to the very brink of extinction. Regrettably, the lack of basic ecological data is hindering targeted management actions for these species. The overall aim of this project is to contribute crucial biological data on the habitat, population structure, and threats to the endangered White-bellied pangolins. We will combine field surveys and occupancy monitoring (modeling) to investigate their population size and structure, and critical conservation areas. The results of this project are crucial for developing conservation strategies for the species in Ghana. We will also initiate an education campaign to raise awareness among stakeholders to instigate lasting behavior changes.