Peeking into a pangolin burrow

by ZSL on

With World Pangolin Day coming up, Dr Bhagawan Raj Dahal, brings us an update on the work being carried out in Nepal to protect pangolins.

The pangolin is being lost from Nepal, as they are being lost from the world. Until recently pangolins were quite prevalent in many parts of the country, however the illegal wildlife trade is a major threat and provinces across Nepal have recently seen a rapid increase in pangolin seizures. As a result, areas that were previously pangolin hotspots have begun to disappear. 

ZSL-Nepal, together with its in country conservation partner Himalayan Nature, has begun to scale up pangolin conservation through identifying trade routes and working with local communities under Nepal’s recently released Pangolin Conservation Action Plan 2018-2022.

Group photo of the Nepal team members
The Nepal team (from left): Sailendra Giri, Tek Bhatta, Bhagawan Dahal, Sashank Sharma, Bhogendra Rayamajhi

We recognize that community participation is an essential tool in achieving conservation. One of our major recent achievements was the establishment of Community Managed Pangolin Conservation Area (CMPCA) in Makawanpur. This initiative is the first of its kind in Nepal and is based on a participatory conservation model.  In this model, people from the community are mainly responsible for the conservation of pangolins. We have also formed two Women Groups and conducted training on alternative livelihood techniques. We believe that women should be at the forefront of conservation.

Group photo of the members of the CBAPU outside
Members of the newly formed CBAPU in Sankhuwasabha

Similarly, three Community Based Anti-Poaching Units (CBAPUs) have been formed in three districts of Nepal. They have been trained on the major issues for the conservation of pangolin and how to tackle said issues. We have coordinated with the Department of Forest and Soil Conservation (DoFSC) and Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) during each step in the formation of the CBAPU including holding multiple training sessions. 

The CBAPU is the front-line defence against pangolin crime, they routinely conduct patrols and inform relevant stakeholders on the status of pangolins in their respective community forests. Additionally, we have conducted school and community awareness programs, which have been attended by more than 1000 students and community members. Similarly, radio jingles are being broadcast by local F.M. stations. 

Group photo of CBAPU members in front of a newly erected information board
Members of CBAPU after the installation of an information board, Sankhuwasabha.

We have also erected multiple hoarding boards highlighting the conservation issues of pangolin in the three districts and mass-produced pangolin flyers and mounted posters.  We also recognize that coordination is of utmost importance in conservation. 

Several training programmes for law enforcement and government officials have been conducted so far. These programmes have reached more than 200 representatives from the Office of the Attorney General, DNPWC, DoFSC, District Administration Office, District Police, Customs Office, Nepalese Army, and District Court among others. Representatives from each office have had their responsibilities defined.  As a result, after only a year, the impact of these trainings is already beginning to be felt. The number of pangolin seizures and the severity of the punishment for culprits have both substantially increased.

One of the flyers featuring an illustration of a pangolin
One of the pangolin flyers highlighting conservation issues

Pangolins are facing unprecedented threats across their range and are on the verge of extinction. However, Nepal has a strong track record in the conservation of endangered species, rescuing dwindling tiger, rhino and elephant population. 

With World Pangolin Day 2019 approaching, we are committed to make further interventions based on our experiences. We are ready to scale up pangolin conservation so that this docile species can once again roam the wild freely.  

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