LEAP has long been concerned about the loss of Sabah’s biodiversity and has supported initiatives to conserve threatened and endangered species such as the Critically Endangered Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica).
In 2014 LEAP helped initiate the Pangolin Conservation Working Group comprising NGOs and relevant government departments and in September 2017 the Sunda Pangolin was upgraded to a Totally Protected species under Schedule 1 of the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.
LEAP has also supported the work of local pangolin researcher Elisa Panjang (see here) through input into the design and distribution of pangolin conservation awareness materials such as posters and the sharing of news articles in the press. And to help promote World Pangolin Day on 15th February 2020, LEAP worked with Elisa to highlight the plight of pangolins during its "Ketamu 4 Pangolins" event, a market showcasing local sustainable products and initiatives. Elisa and Sabah Wildlife Department carried out educational activities with local students and engaged with the public through a stall with pangolin information and awareness materials.
Over recent years dialogues with stakeholders have revealed a need for enhanced veterinary and husbandry practices for confiscated and rescued pangolins including establishing a permanent centre for Sunda Pangolins in Sabah, and increased research and conservation as well as fundraising, education and awareness and enforcement.
Together with Elisa Panjang, and working closely with Sabah wildlife Department, LEAP is also embarking on a new project called the ‘Pangolin Rescue, Rehabilitation & Release (3R) Programme’ which aims to gather expertise and agree protocols for Pangolin Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release manuals/Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs); establish capacity to actually implement rescue, rehabilitation and release of pangolins at facilities in Sabah through the acquisition of equipment and training of staff ; and build public support for pangolin conservation through continued advocacy and outreach.
While awareness may be slowly increasing about the plight of the pangolin, this is matched by a seemingly undiminished demand for pangolin meat and scales, both domestically and internationally, and with the emergence of zoonotic diseases such as COVID -19 caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the need to stop wildlife trade has never been greater.
LEAP will continue working with relevant stakeholders, including local communities, to secure a future for this wonderful but threatened mammal and its habitats.
What happens to rescued pangolins after they are released back to the rainforest? Are we releasing them in the right locations? How do we monitor if they survive?
These were some of the important issues discussed at the third of LEAP’s pangolin workshops carried out under its Pangolin Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release (3R) programme, this time focusing on the all important issue of release of rescued and confiscated pangolins back to the wild.
Held at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park in conjunction with Sabah Wildlife Department and Sabah’s very own pangolin expert Elisa Panjang on 8 th June 2023, some 30 participants from Sabah Wildlife Department’s HQ, Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, Sepilok and district offices, the Wildlife Rescue Unit, Sabah Parks, Sabah Forestry Department, Danau Girang Field Centre, WWF Malaysia, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, 1StopBorneo Wildlife and Rasa Ria Reserve heard the latest analysis of data on Sunda pangolin rescues and confiscations in Sabah and discussed challenges in releasing these sensitive animals back to the wild, including husbandry of pangolins during release, criteria for release sites and the need for more monitoring and evaluation.
Comprehensive and accurate data from all involved in pangolin conservation in Sabah is essential and will form the basis of the forthcoming State Action Plan for Sunda pangolins.
LEAP greatly appreciates all the inputs from stakeholders who attended and shared their expertise and experiences with pangolin rescues and releases. Recommendations and guidelines will be drawn up based on outputs from the workshop and shared through Sabah Wildlife Department.
Participants and friends at the end of the workshop
Elisa sharing about the data analysis of pangolin rescues and releases in Sabah
SWD veterinarian Dr Symphorosa Sipangkui presenting on pangolin releases – the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park experience
Nur’ain Ampuan Acheh of Sabah Wildlife Department explaining about Sunda Pangolin Rescue and Surrender Guidelines
Group sessions on pangolin husbandry during release and release locations
Participants listening to comments from Andy Martin from Tawau Hills Park, Sabah Parks, with Tuan Roland Niun, Deputy Director l of Sabah Wildlife Department in the foreground
Kevin Elmond of the Wildlife Rescue Unit sharing data on WRU pangolin rescues and releases
Elisa with vets and rangers at the workshop
Soft toy pangolins joining in the certificate presentations