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Monday, 09 March 2020 17:10

WNPS monthly lecture: Discussion on Indian pangolin with special reference to Sri Lanka

Dr Priyan Perera will deliver the monthly Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) lecture on March 19 at 6 p.m. at the Jasmine Hall, BMICH. He will speak on ‘Unwinding the secrets of elusive Indian Pangolin’.

The Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) is a solitary, elusive and predominantly nocturnal mammal native to South Asia. Its high adaptability has successfully enabled it to live in an array of natural and human-modified habitats such as tropical rain forests, subtropical thorn forests, deciduous forests, and open scrublands.

Despite its ability to adapt to different habitats, Indian pangolin populations are considered to be declining across its range. Key threats include hunting and poaching for its meat and scales, illegal international trade, habitat loss and fragmentation. Pangolins are considered to be the most trafficked wild animals in the world as scales, meat and other derivatives have a high demand in East Asian markets.

The growing knowledge on the international trading and trafficking of pangolins, and the recent listing of Indian pangolin in Appendix I of CITES has generated considerable interest on the species among researchers and conservationists in Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, over-exploitation of other Asian pangolin populations is believed to have resulted in increased exploitative attention on M. crassicaudata in Pakistan, India and possibly Sri Lanka for illicit international trade. However, lack of reliable scientific information has impaired the accurate assessment of their conservation needs.

Many facts on the distribution, ecology and behaviour of M. crassicaudata in Sri Lanka remained as mysteries till the initiation of “Pangolin Conservation Project” by the Biodiversity and Sustainability Research Group of the Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura in 2014. This talk discusses the current knowledge on Indian pangolin with special reference to Sri Lanka, and identifies key research priorities for better conservation planning of the species.

Dr. Priyan Perera is an environmentalist and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Forestry & Environmental Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura. He currently heads the Biodiversity and Sustainability Research Group of the Department of forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

In 2014, Dr. Perera initiated the flagship research project on Indian pangolin conservation to uncover the information on behaviour, ecology and threats for the species, which remained largely unknown in the Sri Lankan context. Dr. Perera is also a member of the IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group, Zoological Society of London, London, UK.

The WNPS public lecture is open to both members and non-members, entrance free.