EDGE Community

Project information

[Project name/title]

Developing release protocols for trade-confiscated Sunda pangolins (Manis javanica) in Vietnam

[Project description/overview]

Trade-confiscated pangolins are often released into protected areas with no monitoring and no, or inadequate, health checks. Many of these releases have involved Vietnam's wildlife confiscation authorities. There is no data to suggest that these animals survive post-release. Indeed, experience at the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program in Vietnam has shown that many trade-confiscated pangolins are nutritionally stressed, have injuries from hunting traps and need substantial rehabilitation. It is highly likely, therefore, that many of the released pangolins do not survive.

This project has been designed to develop nationally feasible, international standard release guidelines and protocols for trade-confiscated Sunda pangolins. The protocols will function as a blueprint for future releases and will raise awareness of the required steps in a successful release amongst Vietnam's confiscation authorities. This project will involve the complete rehabilitation, full health checks and monitored release of trade-confiscated Sunda pangolins. The release site will be in Cat Tien National Park and the pangolins will be monitored for a minimum of 10 months using VHF radio-telemetry.

This will be the first project of its kind in Vietnam and will produce a better national strategy for dealing with trade-confiscated Sunda pangolins that is highly beneficial to the conservation of this incredibly endangered mammal.

Vietnam, Dong Nai Province, Cat Tien National Park. (Lat/long 11°27’N 107°20’E)

Project type:

Relevant EDGE species:
Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica)

Project members:
Phuong Tran

Relevant species
92. Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica) EN

The term pangolin comes from the Malayan word peng-goling, meaning a roller.

[Relevance description]
To develop nationally feasible, international standard release guidelines and protocols for trade-confiscated Sunda pangolins Manis javanica.

1. Improvement in the ability to assess the health of trade-confiscated Sunda pangolins through the establishment of baseline biochemical and haematological parameters for this species.

2. Initiation of an in-country genetic reference library for Sunda pangolins, enabling the provenance of trade-confiscated Sunda pangolins to be compared and analyzed, once samples from all range countries have been collected.

3. Verification of whether release into a protected area in Vietnam is a viable option for the placement of trade-confiscated Sunda pangolins and an improved understanding of what factors determine the success/failure of a release program for this species.

4. Improvement in the decision-making ability of Vietnam’s Forest Protection Department when placing confiscated Sunda pangolins

5. Improved capacity and practical skills in the Forest Protection Department (FPD) Rangers to independently carry out appropriate release programs for trade-confiscated pangolins, which includes quarantine and basic health checks as well as post-release monitoring.

6. Increased capacity, motivation and ability amongst young Vietnamese researchers in the field of pangolin conservation

7. Raised awareness amongst conservation NGOs, rescue centres and wildlife confiscation authorities on the need for well-planned release programs for Sunda pangolins.

8. Raised awareness amongst the general public on the threats facing pangolins in Vietnam and why poorly-planned releases are not a positive action for the species’ conservation. 

Project members
Mr Phuong Tran : Project Manager

Phuong is a conservationist working on little known but highly threatened species of small carnivore and pangolin

[Member role description]
Within this project:

I will be leading and co-ordinating on all project activities with the rest of my team. 

Other members in my team are Do Thanh Hao, Luong Tat Hung, Nguyen The Truong An and Daniel Willcox

Project partners

Cuc Phuong National Park

Cat Tien National Park


EDGE Fellowship Programme

Newquay Zoo

Ocean Park Conservation Foundation

Seaworld and Busch Gardens

People's Trust for Endangered Species

Chicago Zoological Society

Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund

[Image caption]

EDGE Fellow Phuong is the Project Manager on this project

[Image caption]

Rehabilitated Sunda pangolin in the CPCP's centre in Vietnam

Associated Blog Posts
19th Aug 13
Populations of the Sunda Pangolin, found in South East Asia, suffer severely at the hands of the illegal wildlife trade. Hunted for their meat and scales, re...  Read

12th Jul 12
Our Fellow Tran Quang Phuong is working as part of the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Programme (CPCP) team in Vietnam to fully rehabilitate and release...  Read

14th Jun 12
A previous blog and video introduced our Fellow Tran Quang Phuong who is working as part of the Carnivore and ...  Read

30th Apr 12
There is no doubt that the eastern traditional medicinal market is booming: demand for animal products across Asia is on the rise. Tiger bones, ivory from ...  Read

19th Jan 12
My name is Tran Quang Phuong and I have just started an EDGE Fellowship working on the Sunda pangolin. I am interested in the conservation of small carnivore...  Read

[Image caption]

Pangolins are used for wild meat and in traditional medicine in China and Vietnam

[Image caption]

Rehabilitated Sunda pangolin in the CPCP's centre in Vietnam