Home range of a wild pangolin

Successful conservation management requires a project to be constantly evaluated and developed. Since we began releasing pangolins in April it appears that the rehabilitation and release procedure we are following is working: the animals are surviving.

However, the next step is the management of these releases to ensure that they have a measurable impact on the conservation of the species. To do this requires combining our data; data from research on the same species but in a difference habitat; and data from a different pangolin species in a similar habitat.

Research conducted in Singapore on Sunda Pangolins (Lim, 2008) recorded home ranges up to 70ha for males and studies on the Chinese Pangolin in Taiwan have found that a male’s home range is larger and overlaps several females’, but there is no overlap between female home ranges.

What we have discovered is that our released pangolins have ranges a lot smaller than this. Initially, it was difficult to tell if this was because resources were more abundant or if they were simply being more cautious in an unfamiliar environment.

While we have been tracking a wild pangolin for nearly 3 weeks we have recorded a home range size of 75ha, and over the past 2 days has returned back to the area he was in at the beginning of the tracking process. From this we could predict that the ranges of our released animals are not small due to resource distribution but due to the unfamiliarity of the area. Therefore, they should gradually increase as they explore more of the area, although it is difficult to say over what sort of time frame this may happen.

Furthermore, by mapping the home ranges of different sexes; how they overlap (see map below); and by staggering releases we have time to consider where to release so that there is maximum chance of male and female range overlap, while still remaining aware that little is known about what happens if/when individuals meet.


The green represents the den sites and range of a wild male, the blue and black are released females and the red is a released male. 


5 thoughts on “Home range of a wild pangolin

  1. An excellent start and relevant for release programs! This is a very small sample size now of course, so it’s hard to deduce whether the range differences are due to gender or differences between a well-established resident pangie and tentative explorations of released pangies. We’ve noticed quite a difference between the ranges of individual’s too – what was the variance reported by Lim? Over time you (we!) can hope to become more accurate.

  2. Inferring from what others have said: female home ranges are smaller than males. However, the only female range measured for wild Sunda Pangolin was recording for natal den use, where there is thought to be more fidelity to den site and therefore (possibly) a smaller home range. Lim recorded other male home range sizes as 44.5ha (for 3 months tracking) and 8.2ha and 36ha for 2 weeks tracking. The different tracking lengths make it difficult to gain an idea of the true variance. There is also the problem of different habitat types (Singapore is far more open than the forest we are releasing in here). The sample size is painfully small, which is another reason why encouraging well planned releases with post release monitoring is so important as it provides a way of gathering ecological data on this species, certainly in Vietnam.

  3. I am reminded of Darren Pietersen’s extensive mapping of the home ranges of about 40 Ground Pangolins in the Kalahari. Again he also found that the female home ranges tended not to overlap, while the male’s territory overlapped with number of females. Worth asking his opinion?

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