Narrow range of suitable habitat and poaching driving Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) towards extirpation in Mardan District, Pakistan
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Department of Zoology, Wildlife and Fisheries, PMAS-Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi, Pakistan
Green Pakistan Programme / TBTTP, Ministry of Climate Change & Environmental Coordination, Islamabad, Pakistan
Zoology Department, University of Kotli, Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan
Department of Sociology, Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) Islamabad, Pakistan
These authors had equal contribution to this work
Online publication date: 2023-10-09
Publication date: 2023-10-09
Corresponding author
Nadeem Munawar   

PMAS-Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2023;34(2):119-126
Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata), a medium sized scaled mammal, categorized as “Endangered”, is mainly confined to India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. This endangered species plays an important role in the food web by consuming insects and termites. Its population is declining alarmingly in Pakistan because of its poaching and illegal killing for its scales, which are smuggled to other countries like China and Vietnam to be utilized in preparing traditional medicines. In the current study we investigated the habitat suitability and illegal trade of pangolin in Mardan District, Pakistan. We recorded occurrence of the species at only three out of total fifteen selected sampling sites at an elevational range between 338 m to 399 m. The data collected from sampling plots along with environmental layers (including; elevation, slope, land cover, distance to nearest settlement) and bioclimatic layers (including annual mean temperature and precipitation) were processed to generate habitat suitability maps in MaxEnt software. In order to identify habitat preferences, we divided the Indian pangolin’s habitat into three categories: forests, agricultural lands and grasslands. The species found to exhibit higher occupancy in forest habitat type as compared to grassland and agricultural land in the study area. Average population density was estimated to be 0.09 pangolins per km2 . The MaxEnt analysis showed only 3.99 % area of the total available habitat to Indian pangolin, as the most suitable habitat, followed by 8.77 % area, that is moderately suitable habitat, while most of the study area (87.23 %) is less suitable habitat for Indian pangolin. The result revealed that precipitation, mean temperature, elevation and slope were the important environmental and habitat variables affecting the distribution of Indian pangolin. The questionnaire survey conducted showed declining trend of the species population for the last 10 years, mainly because of hunting, poaching, and trafficking but habitat loss and changes in land use patterns are also among the primary causes of the declining population of pangolin. The study concludes that the species is under pressure from illegal killing and requires urgent conservation measures to save the small remaining population and avoid the extirpation of this vital insectivorous predator from the area and it is important to change the community perceptions and beliefs about Indian pangolin and public awareness is mandatory for its conservation.
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