Six flagship species that are vulnerable (VU) endangered (EN) or critically endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List found in the KTK-BELT will be correlated to each of the 6 campuses of the Vertical University as a public conservation priority. The species will be selected based on issues of how neglected the species is in existing conservation paradigms, the extent of threat and whether or not it can be considered a keystone species.

First Flagship Species: The Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) and Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla)
With the recent decision by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to place all eight global species of Pangolin on Cites Appendix I, KTK-BELT has decided to focus on conservation of this 65 million year old species which is still found in Yangshila VDC, though being driven into extinction by illegal trade.

A community-based research was conducted by KTK-BELT program officer Wangchu Bhutia to understand the habitat location of pangolins throughout Yangshila. Research has illustrated that around 200 pangolins belonging to the Indian and Chinese species, have been killed in the last 4 years (2012-2106) and the population has declined to 25 % with estimated population or just 40-50 organisms left in the wild. It was further realized that there is a profound lack of awareness of the importance of the ecosystem services provided by pangolin and its connection to water conservation and termite control.

Based on this, our strategy is to educate communities about pangolins, create public billboards deterring poachers and traders, and sign up ‘BELT Farmers’ who commit to not only refraining from pangolin hunting but also reporting any illegal activity.

Rajeev Goyal, Wangchu Bhutia, Ganga Limbu