Introducing EDGE Fellow Ambika Khatiwada

Ambika with a Chinese pangolin

My name is Ambika, I am from Nepal and my EDGE Fellowship focuses on studying the Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) in the eastern Himalayas, Taplejung district (bordering China-Tibet to the north and India to the east) of Nepal.

I graduated in Forestry Science from the Institute of Forestry (IoF), Pokhara in 2010 and have been working for the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) since 2011.

I am also engaged in the conservation of the Asiatic wild dog (Dhole) in the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area. I am committed to studying endangered wild animals and working for their conservation.

Nepal is inhabited by two species of pangolins: the Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) and the Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata). Throughout their range, pangolins are threatened by illegal trade and habitat destruction.

50kg of pangolin scales seized by police

Unfortunately, there is substantial evidence of recent illegal trade in pangolin body parts; last month, for example, fifty kilograms of pangolin scales were confiscated from a man arrested on the Chinese border.

Also last month, a man was caught near Kathmandu (the capital of Nepal) with a live pangolin. The pangolin was later handed over to NTNC/Central Zoo for a health check and to ultimately release it back into its natural habitat. I was lucky enough to get a chance to see this animal at the Central Zoo before it was released. There are several cases of pangolin trapping (knowingly or unknowingly) in the villages near Kathmandu and in most of the cases NTNC/Central Zoo is responsible for coordinating the animal’s rescue and release.

This Indian pangolin was given to park authorities

There are also cases of pangolin trapping from different parts of Nepal, but we do not have completely up-to-date information about this.

We do know that in the buffer zone of Bardia National Park in western Nepal, where limited human activity is allowed but strictly monitored, one Indian pangolin was recently trapped by local people and handed over to the park authorities (right). Later the pangolin was able to be released inside Bardia National Park.

Chinese pangolin

My EDGE Fellowship project focuses on collecting important data on the population status and ecology of the poorly known Chinese pangolin as well as looking at trade issues and carrying out conservation awareness raising activities among local communities (Nangkholyang and Dokhu in the Taplejung District) to ensure the long-term conservation of this unique and endangered species. To do this, I will conduct social surveys, line transect surveys, and deploy infra red motion digital camera traps to study the pangolins.

Watch this space for how my project progresses!


  • Check out our other new EDGE Fellow Grace


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  1. Paul Rankin said,

    on July 19th, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Welcome, Ambika to the wonderful world of pangolins! My own work is with African pangolins, but it’s great that you are joining the team on the research & conservation of pangolins in Nepal!

    We share similar challenges and need to share knowldege and solutions too! Do keep me in touch with your work please. e.g. if you have any luck with camera traps, then I’m very interested. We tried briefly, but no success as chances of a pangolin revisiting a den can be low (and lower I think because of our residual scent)

    Good luck, Paul

  2. eddie said,

    on July 21st, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Great work! We appreciate all that you do!

  3. Ali said,

    on September 19th, 2012 at 5:45 am

    Hi Ambika.
    Excellent piece of work and Good luck—certainly are looking forward to hear more about this project.

  4. Dipendra Khatiwada said,

    on September 30th, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Dear Brother Ambika when i read is i really been surprised & happy to read it. keep it up best of luck.

  5. Anju k.c. said,

    on March 13th, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Dear brother Ambika

    You have done great Job well done . I’m a student of Environment science 2nd year. I wanted to do My Thesis in Chinese Pangolin of Kavrepalanchowk or may be Sindhupalanchowk district. Would you suggested me any idea about it.I have done Case Study Tittle Distribution and Human perception of Chinese Pangolin in Kavrepalanchowk District.
    Hope You postively reply me

  6. Ambika Khatiwada said,

    on March 14th, 2013 at 3:26 am

    Dear Paul Rankin, thank you very much for letting me know about your project and for your interest to my work. One pangolin is caught on camera trap in our study site (Nangkholyang village of Taplejung district) recently! Now, the local community themselves are working to control illegal trade of pangolin from the area. More information is coming soon on my blog! How is your work going on in Africa…? I am interested to know more about your project work so that we can enhance our project implementation getting some more African experience.

    Dear Eddie, Ali and Dipendra…thank you very much!

    Dear Anju, thank you for letting me know about your work. I am collecting both social (interview survey, group discussions) and ecological information (Camera trapping, survey of burrows) from eastern Nepal and conducting awareness raising activities (School teaching, community meetings, hoarding boards installation, meeting with concern stakeholders, and use of media) . As you know, illegal trade is major issue for pangolin conservation. So, it would be great if we work to increase the level of awareness among local community as pangolins have many benefits to the farmers (they control termite, ants and other insects and helps for better production of crops, they enhance soil quality, maintain aeration and fertility, they help to enhance water percolation which will be helpful to crops, maintaining moisture and they don’t do any harm to human beings). It is great that you already worked to find distribution and perception of local people, I will be happy to know your preliminary result. We can talk more about my/your project and share our ideas….I am working for NTNC head office, Khumaltar.

  7. anish said,

    on May 31st, 2013 at 4:18 am

    Dear sir…
    You have done great Job well done . I’m a 4th yr student of IOF hetauda. I wanted to do My Thesis in Chinese Pangolin of Kavrepalanchowk district. Would you suggested me any idea about you have done habitat mapping through gis on Chinese Pangolin or any other animals or birds?and also please suggest me about its data collection pattern.
    Hope You postively reply me

  8. on June 6th, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    […] Edge Fellow Ambika Khatiwada organized and hosted a World Pangolin Day round table in Kathmandu. 75 participants including researchers, conservationists, government officials, and media representatives attended the 3 hour program to brainstorm solutions to pangolin conservation challenges. […]

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