African pangolins are exceptionally difficult to monitor in the wild, which means that assessing threats and impacts to these species also remains a challenge. Local ecological knowledge (LEK) surveys have been recommended as an important tool to collect data for small elusive species. We carried out community-based interviews in 20 villages surrounding Mpem et Djim and Deng-Deng National Parks to gather information on local ecological and traditional medicine knowledge, perceived population status, and the level of conservation awareness amongst local people concerning giant pangolin (Smutsia gigantea), white-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis), and black-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla). The arboreal black-bellied pangolin was least known by local people, and along with the giant pangolin was the least recently observed species. The white-bellied pangolin was reported to be the most recently observed species by most people. Local people reported seeing giant pangolins most around forest and savannah burrows and white-bellied pangolins in forests, commonly crossing dead fallen trees. Limited traditional or cultural uses of pangolins were reported, and most respondents were aware of threats to pangolins. Respondents showed great interest in pangolin conservation, suggesting various strategies for conservation activities, such as trade controls and provisioning of alternative sources of food. We show that working with local communities can provide useful information for pangolin conservation and management efforts within protected areas.
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Vol. 40 • No. 2