Persistent forest degradation and illegal wildlife trade in Palawan continue to threaten the population of Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis)—among the rarest of the eight pangolin species—preliminary findings of an ongoing USAID-funded research conducted by Palawan Council for Sustainable Development and local partners show.
According to the research’s local knowledge survey done by Palawan State University in selected communities, poaching and trade of pangolins continue despite widespread public awareness campaigns that such activities are illegal, pointing to weak enforcement of wildlife laws as a possible cause. Pangolin scales can fetch for up to US$190 per kilo in the illegal trade market.
Camera traps set up by Katala Foundation in selected sites also have recorded 14 pangolins, two of which are pregnant, across 800 hectares of forests since September 2018. Compared to results of previous pangolin studies in Palawan, this rate is much lower. The camera traps, however, have recorded other endemic Palawan wildlife.
In another component of the research, ground surveys reveal evidences of slash-and-burn farming and timber poaching that threaten pangolin habitats.
Results of this research will contribute to science-based recommendations for protecting and reducing threats to the Philippine pangolin. (PWP/ Lawrence San Diego)