Pangolin species protection project

Working hard for the pangolin

Zoo support since:2024
Conservation status on the Red List: CR, EN, VU
Location of conservation project:Namibia

The pangolin needs our help!
Donate now

The pangolin is a fascinating animal with unique adaptations. The taxonomic group consists of eight species, four of which are native to Asia and four to Africa. Pangolins are fully covered with hard keratinous scales. When threatened, they curl up into a tight ball and are thus well protected from natural predators. Their scales are made of the same material as our nails and hair, and yet they are poached for them and for their meat to satisfy Asian markets. In fact, pangolins have been the most highly trafficked mammal worldwide over the past decade. However, pangolins remain among the most under-studied mammal species. 


Schönbrunn Zoo supports the Pangolin Conservation & Research Foundation (PCRF) by employing rangers. The Nyae Nyae Pangolin Project is the first and only of its kind to employ local rangers in their own villages to protect the species while monitoring wild pangolins in their habitat. The rangers are trained in anti-poaching methods and data collection, so they are able to remove snares, set up camera traps, tag animals and carry out telemetry.

Additionally, the partnership with Schönbrunn Zoo supports the rehabilitation and release of confiscated pangolins from the illegal wildlife trade. Data has shown that releases into the wild without proper care and rehabilitation result in a 50% mortality rate. Therefore, PCRF established the first rehabilitation center in Namibia in 2023. Within the first six months, five pangolins were rehabilitated and released back into the wild – of which two females have since given birth! Understanding the release success and their impact on resident pangolins will help improve survival rates. In addition, research on genetics and stable isotopes of pangolin scales can help trace origins of confiscated pangolins. 


The goal of the project is to inform decision-makers on basic pangolin ecology to develop strategies for conservation management. The research has already helped to develop essential guidelines for pangolins in Namibia. Ultimately, the data will also show the extent to which pangolins can be indicator species for climate change, drought and poor land management practices. 

Kelsey Prediger, Founder and Executive Director of the Pangolin Conservation and Research Foundation (PCRF), Co-Chair for Southern Africa of the IUCN SSN Pangolin Specialist Group (PSG) and Secretary of the Namibian Pangolin Working Group:
“Our preliminary work in Namibia will serve as the basis for expanding protective measures throughout all of Southern Africa. We are very proud to work with Schönbrunn Zoo to help secure a sustainable future for the species and raise awareness about the plight of the pangolin.”