After ensuring the pangolin’s survival over the first week of release, our aims recently have been redirected to ensure that we are collecting useful data about her movements, activity patterns and den site use.
This means that we are going out every day to locate where she is sleeping and take a GPS location. Then at night we camp around 150m away from the den site and take bearings every 15 mins for the entire night. When a bearing changes substantially or becomes very difficult to pick up, we know that she is active (although she might not necessarily leave her den site). At this point we move around so we can take many different bearings from which to estimate her location.
The majority of the time she has been using tree hollows, and often staying in the same hollow for two or three consecutive nights. Occasionally, it has been very difficult to pinpoint exactly where she is as she is hidden in a thicket that it is not possible to access.
Over the first two weeks she stayed around 100m from the release site. Then she completely surprised us, travelling nearly 500m to find a new den site. This was unusual as there were more than enough tree hollows and food sources in the area that she was in.
However, it is not unusual for there to be some form of dispersal when an animal is first released. Exploratory behaviour and occasional sallies outside of an animal’s home range is to be expected. It was just an unexpectedly large distance to travel in one night. However, after a few days in this area, she moved right back to within 100m of the release site, where she still currently remains.