Mapping the distribution of the Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) within natural forest in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

Elisa Panjang, Hong Ye Lim, Robert J. Thomas, Benoit Goossens, Andrew J. Hearn, David W. Macdonald, Joanna Ross, Seth Timothy Wong, Roshan Guharajan, Azlan Mohamed, Penny C. Gardner, Sharon Koh, Cheryl Cheah, Marc Ancrenaz, Isabelle Lackman, Robert Ong, Reuben Nilus, Alex Hastie, Jedediah F. Brodie, Alys GranadosOlga Helmy, Olivia Magritta Lapis, Donna Simon, Glyn Davies, Siew Te Wong, Mark Rampangajouw, Hisashi Matsubayashi, Chihiro Sano, Rebecca K. Runting, Symphorosa Sipangkui, Nicola K. Abram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pangolins are the most trafficked mammals in the world and are severely threatened by poaching the loss, degradation, and fragmentation of habitat. In Malaysian Borneo, conservation initiatives for the Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) are hindered by a paucity of data on their distribution and population size. Using MaxEnt niche modelling and consolidated species location data, we projected the distribution of Sunda pangolins in Sabah. Additionally, we assessed the accessibility of their forest habitats to humans to understand potential threats. Our model indicated that, as of 2015, approximately half of Sabah's land area (39,530 km²) is suitable for pangolins, with 43% in protected forests, 38% in production forests, and 19% outside of these areas. Alarmingly, our data suggest that nearly all (91%) of these suitable habitats are relatively easily accessible to poachers. Our findings provide a state-level baseline understanding of Sunda pangolin distribution and assess potential threats in Sabah. These can inform short- and long-term conservation management plans for pangolin to safeguard this critically endangered species.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02962
JournalGlobal Ecology and Conservation
StatePublished - Aug 2024


  • Borneo
  • Habitat suitability
  • Malaysia
  • MaxEnt
  • Poaching
  • Sabah
  • Sunda pangolin


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