2 Indian pangolins radio tagged, released back to Satpura Tiger Reserve in MP

New Delhi, Feb 15 (PTI) The Madhya Pradesh Forest Department has radio-tagged two Indian pangolins and released them into the wild under a first-of-its-kind project undertaken to develop a conservation plan for the highly endangered species.

The pangolins have been released back to the Satpura Tiger and Biosphere Reserve under a project jointly undertaken by the state forest department and the Wildlife Conservation Trust.

'This is the first such effort to protect the highly endangered species. The team has successfully rehabilitated two Indian pangolins in the wild. They are being monitored using telemetry to ensure better success rate,' said S K Singh, the Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) and Field Director of Satpura Tiger Reserve.

Chief Wildlife Warden of Madhya Pradesh Rajesh Shrivastav said, 'The Special Task Force (STF) of MP Forest Department has been actively working to curb wildlife poaching in the state. In recent years, we have successfully busted pangolin smuggling syndicates which involved poachers and smugglers from more than nine states.' Pangolins are the most trafficked wildlife species in the world. These scaly toothless ant-eaters are unique and are a result of millions of years of evolution.

They evolved scales as a means of protection, and this unique protective mechanism has now become the main reason behind its shrinking population. Pangolin scales are in high demand for their use in traditional chinese medicine. Pangolin meat is also in high demand in China and Southeast Asian countries.

World Pangolin Day, celebrated on the third Saturday of February, is an international attempt to raise awareness about pangolins and bring together various stakeholders to help protect these unique species.

Globally, pangolins have seen a rapid reduction in population. The projected population declines range from 50 per cent to 80 per cent across the genus, said Aditya Joshi, wildlife biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Trust, who is overseeing the project.

Both Indian and Chinese pangolin species are protected and listed under the Schedule I, Part I, of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Despite protective measures, pangolins in India are widely exploited and traded both domestically and internationally.

Being an elusive nocturnal species found in low population densities, very little information is available on the behaviour and ecology of the Indian pangolin. It is critical to know the ecology of the species to develop an effective conservation plan for them, Joshi said. PTI GVS NSD NSD