Marking World Pangolin Day 2016, SOS is delighted to share news that its Fondation Segré Pangolin Conservation Initiative has recorded the first known footage of a wild Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) in Khlong Nakha Wildlife Sanctuary, Southern Thailand.
One of the world’s most cryptic and elusive mammal species, the Critically Endangered Sunda pangolin was caught on camera as it climbed a Jambolan plum tree (Syzygium cumini). The camera trap that captured the footage was set up as part of the two-year Fondation Segré Pangolin Conservation Initiative. The project aims to monitor and protect important pangolin populations in Thailand and Cameroon, and reduce demand for pangolins and their derivatives in southern China.
The project's Thailand team aims to identify pangolin hotspots and increase on-the-ground protection and law enforcement in Khlong Nakha Wildlife Sanctuary, helping to secure the future of the area’s Sunda pangolins. They began field surveys in October 2015, strategically placing camera traps in areas containing evidence of pangolin activity in order to confirm pangolin presence.
Ten camera traps were placed in locations showing pangolin signs, such as claw marks on trees and digs around ant nests, and in sites containing environmental features associated with pangolins, such as tree hollows and ants’ nests. The cameras were placed both inside the protected area and in the buffer areas within 2 km of the sanctuary’s boundary. The cameras were placed 30-50 cm from the ground and were left in the area for 30 days.
To the team’s excitement, one of the camera traps revealed two sequential videos of a pangolin climbing a Jambolan plum tree (Syzygium cumini). This particular camera was placed in the buffer area, 70 m from the boundary of Khlong Nakha Wildlife Sanctuary. During the surveys the team noticed the hollow on the Jambolan tree, so one of the rangers climbed the tree to check for the presence of water inside it. The presence of water in the hollow and claw marks of various animals on the tree indicated that it was likely used as a water source.
A camera trap was therefore placed right in front of that tree, with the hope of recording a pangolin. As suspected, a pangolin climbed the tree, probably to drink water. The first video showed the pangolin walking in front of the Jambolan tree and starting to climb it up and the second one, 3 minutes later, showed the pangolin climbing down and walking away.