Yesterday afternoon a pangolin was brought to Cat Tien that had been found in a snare trap. It was small (about 3kg) and found on Tuesday. Initially it looked like the animal wasn’t injured, but snare trap wounds are often difficult to find spot, especially when a frighten animal is curled up tight.
Initially the park wanted to release it straight away, but eventually they agreed that we could put it in our enclosure and feed it, at least for one night to check it was ok. This is a huge step with the park, who in previous instances have not agreed to do this. It is incredibly lucky that we did, as watching it move around the enclosure revealed a snare trap wound that previously hadn’t been spotted.
This meant that we could get to work treating it straight away. On closer inspection it doesn’t look too bad, but if it was released in this condition there would be a high chance of infection. When checked this morning it had fed and was curled up asleep in the bedbox. Over the next few days we will be able to continue the treatment and monitor its progress, and when recovered we will release it.
Unfortunately, it appears that the scales are too small and thin to hold a transmitter. However, when recovered we will have a closer look at see if any form of post releasing monitoring will be possible. We will keep you posted on how it does.
After the transmitter fell off two weeks ago, we put up camera traps at all his previously used den sites; a method that has worked well for finding both P33 and P34. To our relief, and interest, he has been photographed at a den site that he has reused on numerous occasions.
This is incredibly interesting behavior as male Sunda pangolins were thought to have low fidelity to a den site. As mentioned in a previous post this may be due to the habitat of his provenance; his larger body mass; or simply variation in individuals’ behaviors.
The abundance of ants and termites combined with a preference for larger tree hollows means that this area meets all his resources requirements. We know that he has used other den sites, but often returns to this area. If he favors this area it would be interesting to see what sort of impact this would have on the abundance of ants and termites. These insects are regarded as ecosystem engineers that effect the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from dead organic matter. We plan to track changes in termite abundance in this area, using count data and track any long term changes.
He was photographed at this den site on 4 nights (3 consecutive nights). It will be a good way of tracking when he returns to this patch to forage, if he continues to use this den site when here.
Unfortunately on Saturday we found the transmitter that had been attached to P27 lying on the forest floor. He had been using a den site in thick bamboo forest, and as you can see from the picture below, the transmitter is still attached to the scale, it is the scale itself that fell off.
The dropped transmitter still attached to the scale (on the right)
As we have done in the past, we are setting up camera traps at all his known den sites. We are hopeful as he has been found returning to a previously used den site on more than one occasion. However, considering he has spent the past 4 weeks in the same 4 hectares it may be time for him to forage for food in a different area. Ants and termites are abundant in this type of habitat, however, the volume that one individual can eat means that at some point the animal must move on to another patch. He may well move back to an area he is familiar with, in which he may reuse den sites where we have cameras.
Setting up a camera trap at a previously used den site
However, as we have experienced in the past with P33, it could be several months before he returns to this area, or any area in his current home range, and appears on our camera traps, but we will keep you informed.
In the meantime the releases will continue. The next step is to release one in the next few weeks so we can gather some data over the dry season.