Monitoring pangolin populations is important in order to inform local to international management and conservation efforts, and for evaluating conservation impact. Pangolins are heavily hunted and poached in Africa and Asia for their meat, scales, and other body parts, both for local use and international trafficking , and all eight species are threatened with extinction. An impediment to targeted and effective conservation action for the species is lack of knowledge of populations at sites and in areas where they occur.

A radio-tagged Sunda pangolin about to be released back into the wild, which will be monitored post-release. Image: David Tan, Wildlife Reserves Singapore

This knowledge, including how many individuals exist within sites, and at the national and international level, would enable conservationists, protected area managers, practitioners, and researchers to better understand populations and the extent and impact of exploitation, and facilitate the identification and prioritisation of key sites for the conservation of each species. The need for population monitoring methods for pangolins has long been recognised (e.g., within CITES), and is captured in CITES Res. Conf. 17.10 on Conservation of and trade in pangolins, and in action plans developed for the species.

In 2017, the Pangolin Specialist Group initiated a body of work to advance the development of monitoring methods for pangolins. This entailed conducting two systematic literature reviews and holding an expert workshop to explore opportunities for monitoring the species and evaluate the potential of different monitoring approaches and sampling methods. Outputs from this work include a guidance document, which presents sampling methods with established, potential and theoretical application to the different species of pangolin and guidance on their implementation.

Click on the buttons below to download the relevant document. Links to the two systematic literature reviews conducted to inform the workshop are also below. A related paper on the use of camera trap bycatch to monitor pangolins is also relevant and is accessible below.


Methods for monitoring populations of pangolins (Pholidota: Manidae) (IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group and IUCN Global Species Programme, 2018)DownloadFRPT
Evaluating methods for detecting and monitoring pangolin (Pholidata: Manidae) populations (Willcox, et al., 2019)Download
Evaluation of the application of methods used to detect and monitor selected mammalian taxa to pangolin monitoring (Ingram, et al., 2019)Download
Pangolins in global camera trap data: Implications for ecological monitoring (Khwaja, et al., 2019)Download


N.B. The guidance documents in French and Portuguese include translation to these languages in Section 6 only.