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.