#OnePlanet, Ceva Wildlife Research Fund
12 February 2024

Ceva Wildlife Research Fund supports innovative PhD project on pangolin conservation, unveiling the mysteries of an enigmatic species

In alignment with its commitment to wildlife health preservation, the Ceva Wildlife Research Fund proudly supports a pioneering PhD project in collaboration with the African Pangolin Working Group (APWG). The project focuses on the critical conservation of pangolins, as one of the most enigmatic creatures in the animal kingdom, aiming to contribute valuable insights and strategies for their protection.

This elusive mammal, characterized by its protective armor of scales and a unique, elongated tongue, remains shrouded in mystery. Despite its captivating appearance, the pangolin’s habits, behaviors, and ecological needs are still poorly understood. Regrettably, the lack of comprehensive knowledge about pangolins has impeded conservation efforts and the development of effective preservation strategies. As a result, these remarkable creatures, facing the threats of habitat loss and illegal wildlife trade, are in dire need of further research to unlock the secrets of their lives and ensure their survival.

Founded in 2011, the APWG plays a pivotal role in pangolin conservation. Notably, they have successfully reintroduced pangolins into KwaZulu Natal (where they have been ecologically extinct for 4 decades) specifically onto the Munyawana Reserve and continually work towards generating knowledge and raising awareness.

The APWG, oversees this project’s applied science mission, aiming to ensure the survival and well-being of African pangolin species.

The 3 main missions of this initiative are:

  • Pangolin management plan. The study seeks to establish a comprehensive pangolin management plan for Zululand, integrating release protocols, behavioral data, and reintroduction strategies.
  • Behavioral ecology study: examining fine-scale intraspecific behavioral patterns, the research considers factors such as territoriality, age, sex, vegetation type, soil type, and ambient variables.
  • Dietary requirements: investigating the dietary needs and preferences of pangolins in relation to prey abundance, energy content, and predation effort, while considering environmental variables.

This PhD project is conducted under the governance of the University of Pretoria and Tshwane University of Technology, the conservation management team of Munyawana Conservancy and the African Pangolin Working Group

Anticipated outcomes include a comprehensive PhD thesis, the publication of three scientific papers, and the formulation of a pangolin conservation plan tailored for northeastern KwaZulu-Natal.

By providing crucial support to this initiative, the Ceva Wildlife Research Fund reiterates its commitment to the preservation of endangered species and the advancement of wildlife research. The fund’s backing underscores the significance of collaborative efforts in unveiling the secrets of pangolins and fostering a sustainable future for these extraordinary creatures.

Collaboration in 47 countries.
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