A Preliminary Investigation of the Habitat Selection of Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) in a Tropical Lowland Forest in South-West Sri Lanka

M.G.T. Pabasara, P.K.P. Perera, N.P. Dayawansa


Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) is a nocturnal, solitary and illusive mammal which

has received less scientific attention. M. crassicaudata is listed as Endangered by IUCN and

listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of

Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). According to the National Red List (2012) of Sri Lanka, M.

crassicaudata is listed under “Near Threatened” and is strictly protected by the Flora and

Fauna Protection Ordinance of Sri Lanka. Despite its conservation importance, very few

studies have examined the ecology of Asiatic pangolin species and, there‟s virtually no

autecological studies done on M. crassicaudata in Sri Lanka. This lack of reliable

information has impaired the accurate assessment of their conservation needs.


This study investigated the habitat preference and utilisation of Indian pangolins in Yagirala

forest reserve; a tropical lowland forest in southwest Sri Lanka. Four major types of habitats

were identified within the study site; secondary natural forest (SF), Pine-dominated forest

(PF), Rubber plantations (RP) and Tea-dominated home gardens (TH). Indian pangolin

burrows in search of termites to feed, and rests in underground burrows. Hence, presence of

pangolins can be determined based on such indirect observations. Evidences for pangolin

presence were collected using 50×100 m belt transects laid in each habitat type. Field surveys

from February to September 2015 recorded 29 pangolin burrows, 35 burrowing marks on

ground/termite mounds and 9 scratch marks on logs from all habitat types. Habitat Preference

Index (HPI) (given by HPI=Sn/A where Sn= total indirect observations of pangolin activity

and A= area) was used to determine the intensity of pangolin activity in a specific habitat

type. Accordingly the highest preference was for Pine-dominated forest and the ranking of

preference followed TH<RP<NF<PF. However, Kruskal-Wallis test to compare the pangolin

activity in 4 habitat types revealed only a marginal significance (χ2=7.579, p=0.05). Key

habitat features associated with borrows were further recorded and the preference for a

specific habitat feature was determined from the percentage of its occurrence frequencies

(where Po=[frequency of occurrence of a specific habitat feature/total number of burrows

observed]×100%). Higher Po indicates a greater preference for a specific environmental

factor. Accordingly, the environmental factors preferred by Indian pangolins were determined

as medium slope (30°~60°), low undergrowth (10~50%), dense closure of canopy (>~70%)

and presence of rock boulders (83%). Key ecological factors influencing the habitat selection

of pangolins were further explored using Cluster Analysis.


Keywords: Indian Pangolin, Yagirala Forest, Habitat preferences index, Habitat features

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.31357/fesympo.v20i0.2505

DOI (PDF): https://doi.org/10.31357/fesympo.v20i0.2505.g1518


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Proceedings of International Forestry and Environment Symposium, Sri Lanka. Published by Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura