Operation Pangolin

Research Overview/Outline of research:

Operation Pangolin will generate much-needed data to inform conservation strategies for pangolins in Central Africa, including wildlife crime prevention. The research team will work in partnership with local conservation stakeholders, including indigenous peoples, local communities, and government agencies. There are four core pillars to the project:

1) monitoring of pangolin populations, including developing and deploying new technologies to do this;

2) understanding the social-ecological systems in which pangolins are harvested, used, and traded in key areas in Central Africa to inform locally-led sustainable conservation solutions;

3) using insights from conservation criminology to prevent the illegal harvesting and trafficking of pangolins;

4) using artificial intelligence and machine learning approaches to unite diverse data streams to prevent wildlife crime involving pangolins, including through predictive approaches.



Dr Matt Shirley (Florida International University)

Dr Meredith Gore (University of Maryland)

Dr Bistra Dilkina (University of Southern California)

Alasdair Davies (Arribada Initiative)

Dr Andrew Fowler (Zoological Society of London)

Cedric Thibaut Kamogne Tagne (Collective Action to Save our Environment)

Carla Moumboulou (Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux du Gabon)


Objectives/Summary of planned activities:

The Oxford team will conduct research in and around key protected areas with pangolins in Cameroon to understand the social-ecological systems in which pangolins are harvested, used, and trafficked. This will involve working with key stakeholders to collectively identify the conditions that result in the illegal harvest and trade of pangolins. This information will be used to inform context-specific conservation interventions with local actors (including indigenous peoples and local communities) to ensure that any future use and/or trade of pangolins is legal and not unsustainable.