Safeguarding the Sunda Pangolin: RER’s Commitment to Wildlife Protection and Conservation

This article is an adaptation of “Safeguarding the Sunda Pangolin: RER’s Commitment to Wildlife Protection and Conservation”, published in Jakarta Globe ( Changes include rewriting some of the passages and adding original materials.

Illegal hunting and wildlife trade remain the main factors contributing to the endangerment of numerous species, including the Sunda Pangolin. This mammal, belonging to the pangolin family, is native to Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare reports that pangolins are the most trafficked mammals globally, driven by the demand for their scales and claws in traditional medicine, while their meat is considered a delicacy in some Asian countries and consumed as bush meat in certain African countries.

In addition to being victims of illegal trade, pangolins play a vital role in the ecosystem. They regulate the insect population and protect forests from termite destruction. Their digging action while feeding helps loosen and aerate the soil, distributing oxygen and essential nutrients that benefit the surrounding biodiversity.

The Sunda Pangolin stands out with its unique physical characteristics. Its body is covered in hard, keratin scales, which make up about 20 percent of its body weight. When threatened, it can curl into a ball, using its overlapping scales as protective armour against predators. Despite having poor eyesight, this solitary mammal relies on its strong sense of smell and powerful claws to locate ant nests and termite mounds for food.

When in danger, Sunda Pangolin can roll into a ball, exposing only the tough scales for protection

Restorasi Ekosistem Riau (RER), the largest ecosystem restoration project in Sumatra, plays a crucial role in conserving the Sunda Pangolin (Manis Javanica), also known as Trenggiling Peusing in Indonesia. 

The RER area within the Kampar Peninsula has identified the presence of the Sunda Pangolin, one of the 78 mammal species found there. Classified as critically endangered (CR) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), it is one of the two critically endangered mammals in the RER area.

Initiated by the Riau-based fiber, pulp, and paper producer APRIL Group in 2013, RER is committed to protecting, restoring, and conserving peatland ecosystems, maintaining carbon stocks, and preserving biodiversity within a 150,693-hectare concession in Kampar Peninsula and Pulau Padang, Riau Province, equivalent in twice size to Singapore. Through continuous monitoring using camera traps, ground patrols, and systematic surveys, the RER program keeps track of the level of biodiversity and wildlife count in the area.

“Protecting the forest and its majestic animals, including the Pangolin, is one of the key aspects of RER’s ecosystem restoration efforts,” Nyoman Iswarayoga, Director of External Affairs at RER, said.

“As of 2022, we have recorded the presence of 846 species in RER, and in doing so, we closely collaborate with the government, NGOs, and stakeholders to support the conservation of endangered species in Indonesia,” Nyoman said.

In line with their commitment to wildlife protection, APRIL, through RER, strengthens its partnerships and collaborations to support the conservation of endangered species in Indonesia. This commitment was launched as part of the APRIL2030 initiative in 2020. 

‘Love the Sunda Pangolin’ sculpture on display at Gardens by the Bay

Lately, the importance of Sunda Pangolin in our ecosystem is demonstrated by the international sculpture exhibition at Gardens by The Bay, Singapore. The exhibition depicts an animal march with 62 of the world’s most endangered species, including Sunga Pangolins.

Love the Last March is the world’s longest bronze sculpture at 192 meters in length. These bronze animal sculptures will stay in Gardens by The Bay until May 2024. At that exhibition, APRIL is taking part in the exhibition by sponsoring the two Sunda Pangolins, called Atan Gulong and Seri Manis.