A review of the anthropogenic threats faced by Temminck’s ground pangolin, Smutsia temminckii, in southern Africa

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Throughout its range, Temminck's ground pangolin, Smutsia temminckii, is becoming increasingly threatened, predominantly as a result of anthropogenic pressures. This species is currently listed as Vulnerable in South Africa and Least Concern globally, although many assessment criteria are data deficient and thus hamper an accurate assessment of its actual status. Current knowledge of the threats faced by Temminck's ground pangolin largely stem from a handful of ecological studies and ad hoc observations. Here we synthesize data on the known threats faced by this species in southern Africa and highlight a number of new threats not previously recognized. The main threats faced by this species include electrocution on electrified fences, the traditional medicine (muthi) trade, habitat loss, road mortalities, capture in gin traps, and potentially poisoning. Electrocutions arguably pose the greatest threat and mortality rates may be as high as one individual per 11 km of electrified fence per year. However, the magnitude of the threat posed by the muthi trade has not yet been quantified. Most southern African countries have adequate legislation protecting this species, although implementation is often lacking and in some instances the imposed penalties are unlikely to be a deterrent. We propose mitigating actions for many of the identified threats, although further research into the efficacy of these actions, and the development of additional mitigating procedures, is required. Keywords: Smutsia temminckii, Manis temminckii, electrocutions, traditional medicine, international trade, legislation, mitigation.

Publication Title:

South African Journal of Wildlife Research

Item Type:
Journal Article

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