For the first time, scientists have radio-tagged the Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata), an endangered animal that is rarely sighted in forests. It is the joint initiative of the Special Task Force of the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department and non-profit, the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT).
About Indian Pangolin
- The Indian pangolin, which resembles an ant-eater but dons a thick scaly skin, is hunted for meat and used in traditional Chinese medicine.
- Pangolins are among the most trafficked wildlife species in the world.
- According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), these toothless animals have seen a rapid reduction in population. Do the projected population declines range from 50% to 80? ross the genus.
- Species in India: Out of the eight species of pangolin,
- The Indian Pangolin (found in northeastern India) and
- the Chinese Pangolin (distributed in other parts of the countries as well as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan) are also found in India.
Both these species are listed under Schedule I Part I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Schedule I of WPA 1972
- It covers endangered species. These species need rigorous protection and therefore, the stringent penalties for violation of the law are for species under this Schedule.
- Absolute protection: Species under this schedule are prohibited to be hunted throughout India, except under threat to human life. The trade of these animals is prohibited.
- Examples: tiger, blackbuck, Himalayan Brown Bear, Brow-Antlered Deer, etc.
Appendix I of CITES
It lists species that are the most endangered among CITES-listed animals and plants.
- Prohibition to international trade: They are threatened with extinction and CITES prohibits international trade in specimens of these species.
- Exception: When the purpose of the import is not commercial, for instance for scientific research. In these exceptional cases, trade may take place provided it is authorized by the granting of both an import permit and an export permit (or re-export certificate).
Examples: gorillas, sea turtles, most lady slipper orchids, and giant pandas.
- World Pangolin Day, celebrated on the third Saturday in February, is an international attempt to raise awareness of pangolins and bring together stakeholders to help protect these unique species from extinction.
How is tagging helpful?
- Help understand the habits: Tagging the animal will help understand the habits of the reclusive, nocturnal animal.
- Monitor its movements: Radio-tagging involves attaching a transmitter to an animal to monitor its movements.
- Curb poaching: This will help in busting pangolin-smuggling syndicates that involve poachers and smugglers from different States.
- To develop an effective conservation plan.
The team has successfully rehabilitated two Indian pangolins in the wild. This is the first-ever case of successful rehabilitation effort of the species where the released individuals are monitored in the wild using telemetry to ensure a better success rate.
- To ensure better survival rate: Where live pangolins are involved, globally there is about 50? ath rate among released pangolins.
Given that several pangolins are rescued in the central Indian landscape, this new initiative by the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department and the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) is to ensure better survival rates of these released individuals in the wild and thus have a positive impact on the population of this endangered species.
Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT)
- WCT is a non-profit organization that aims to reduce anthropogenic pressure on forests and river systems through a robust and tested 360-degree approach involving the forest department, local communities, corporates, and other NGOs.
- Using the Tiger as a metaphor for all of nature, Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) was envisioned to preserve and protect India’s rich natural heritage.