Pangolins are under threat in Ghana and may silently be heading towards extinction. They are used extensively in African traditional medicine, resulting in high demand for pangolins parts. This drive the species’ illicit hunting and trade. The situation is made worse by lack of data on the species’ population, distribution and ecology but which is critical to underpinning conservation decisions for pangolins. This project will provide such urgent data, and create grassroots awareness of the plight of pangolins and contribute to implementation of the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group priority actions for Africa, thus better understanding of pangolins conservation needs
The project will focus on the three species of African pangolins (the white-bellied (Phataginus tricuspis), Black-Bellied (Phataginus tetradactyla) and the giant ground (Smutsia gigantea) that occur in Ghana. The species are listed as Vulnerable on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species and are in great danger of extinction in Ghana. In addition, the Ghana Wildlife Conservation Act of 1971 (LI 685) classifies them under Schedule 1 prohibiting their hunting or possession. Challender et al., (2014) however, note that pangolins are the most illegal hunt and trade mammals globally.
Across Africa, pangolins are widely hunted for traditional medicine (Boakye et al., 2014; Soewu and Adekonola 2011; Boakye et al., 2015). In Ghana, pangolins are believed to be used in the treatment of 35 ailments (Boakye et al., 2015). The result is high demand for pangolin parts which is a major driver of the species’ illicit hunting and trade. The situation is made worse by lack of data on species population, distribution and ecology that is so critical to underpinning conservation decisions on pangolins (Challender et al., 2014; Boakye et al., 2015).
By studying pangolin population, distribution and habitat associations in the Bobiri Forest Reserve and Butterfly Sanctuary, this project will be making an urgent and significant contribution to the action plan of the IUCN pangolin specialist group that recommends as a main priority for Africa, to establish baseline ecological data to better assess the impact of hunting on wild pangolin populations. The results of the studies will also help policymakers and other stakeholders make informed decisions especially in drafting a national policy plan for pangolin conservation.
The overall aim of the project is to document and obtain a current baseline data on pangolin populations and create conservation awareness on the local and global status of pangolins in Ghana. This aim among others will be accomplished through the following specific objectives;
- Determine pangolin population and distribution within the Bobiri Forest Eco Zone of Ghana
- Establish habitat characteristics essential for the existence of pangolins
- Create grassroots awareness on the status of pangolins and the need to conserve them