GUWAHATI, Nov 24 - In an inspiring development, the Gauhati University (GU) has started a conservation and ecological research work on the critically endangered bonrou or the Chinese pangolin (Manispentadactyla).
According to Prof PK Saikia of the GU Zoology Department, Dr Kuladip Sarma, a post-doctoral fellow of the Centre for Animal Ecology and Wildlife Biology of the GU Department of Zoology has started conservation and ecological research work on the bonrou or Chinese pangolin (Manispentadactyla) under his (Dr Saikia�s) guidance and supervision.
Bonrou, or Chinese pangolin has been declared as a critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to its rapid population decline, habitat degradation and shrinkage of its distribution range across the globe. The species is distributed in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal, Southern Bhutan, Northeast India, northern and western Myanmar, Laos, northern Vietnam, northeast Thailand, southern China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The species� scales and body parts are traded from Northeast India to China.
The species is distributed in Northeast India and is very secretive and nocturnal. This scaly mammal is hunted for its flesh and scales. However, the species is less studied regarding its population and ecology.
�The species population is not assessed yet and there is an urgent requirement of deployment of proper scientific method to do so as the species is very hard to sight in the forest,� said Professor PK Saikia, of the GU Centre for Animal Ecology and Wildlife Biology. The research programme is funded by Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) and Rufford Small Grant considering the urgency of the conservation priority of the species. Also, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)-India programme is extending intellectual support to this research programme.
Prof PK Saikia in-charge of the Centre for Animal Ecology and Wildlife Biology, Gauhati University said, �Chinese pangolins are terrestrial and live in burrows in comparatively highland areas of Assam. Their main food is termites and ants and that is why the species is also known as scaly anteaters.�
The research team has aimed at assessing the population of Chinese pangolin in protected habitats and also at investigating the magnitude and precise nature of the threats it is facing. The research group is looking for information on the species ecology, population status and habitats which is necessary to formulate the proper conservation strategy to protect the species. Saikia urges involvement of local community as key informant in the process of primary and secondary data generation.