Conservation research

Our research comprises in-situ and ex-situ species projects. We also undertake social research to understand the motivations and social conditions of those who consume illegal wildlife products and who hunts and trades in wildlife.

There is a lack of understanding of the requirements of threatened species, including the pangolins and small carnivores distributed in our selected stronghold Pu Mat National Park and in captivity. Therefore, conducting conservation research will improve our understanding of the conservation needs of threatened species and helps to monitor the successes of our conservation activities.

We have three research themes: field research, social research and captive research. We are committed to raising the capacity of Vietnamese conservation researchers. All our research teams include a strong core of Vietnamese researchers.

Field research

Very little is known about the ecology and biology of many species in Vietnam, particularly the elusive species we work with.  The answers to simple questions such as, ‘when do they breed?’, ‘Are they territorial?’, ‘What is their distribution?’, ‘What are the current population sizes?’ still are largely unknown.  All of these need answering if we are to effectively conserve these threatened species.

The field teams of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife carry out field studies to improve the understanding of wildlife ecology, status and conservation requirements. Field studies aim to find sustainable habitats for our species and carry out post release monitoring for our released wildlife. Our research contributes directly to our evidence based advocacy work with government, training of protected area staff, enforcement officers and university students in the identification and handling of, and threats to these species and to outreach work with communities surrounding protected areas.

Social research

An increasing domestic and international demand for their meat, pelts and other body parts for medicinal products is driving many of  Vietnam’s most charismatic species to extinction. Many studies have failed to identify the underlying factors that drive wildlife trade, or understand the characteristics of wildlife consumers, local needs and conservation requirement. As a result, awareness campaigns are currently developed without complete knowledge of their target demographic.

Save Vietnam’s Wildlife has been undertaking several social studies throughout Vietnam to provide a baseline understanding of why people hunt, eat and use wildlife products. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods we have worked with hunters and local communities, traditional medical doctors, wildlife restaurant owners and wildlife product consumers. It is essential to carry out more studies to understand consumer characteristics  in order to develop recommendations to reduce the demand for pangolins, their products and derivatives through an evidence-based medicine and targeted-behavioural change campaigns.

Captive research

We have undertaken captive research of focus species since 2005, firstly as the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program and since 2014 Save Vietnam’s Wildlife. We focus our captive research on disease, nutrition, behaviours, veterinary care, and welfare for our focus species. We use this research to produce international standard husbandry standards and protocols. We also work with other rescue centres, in both Vietnam and in other parts of Asia, to help improve care for animals confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade.

current Research projects

  • In Spring 2018, SVW is hosting a MSc student from Plymouth University to conduct a study on behaviour of Owston’s civet in captivity. As well as behavioural studies, this research is aimed to update the Best Practice Care Manual for the species, in order to improve captive management and husbandry standards across all zoological institutions who collaborate on the conservation breeding programme.
  • Systematic camera trapping survey in Pu Mat National Park to identify mammals and baseline for monitoring population trends in the future.
  • New radio-tracking research for Sunda Pangolin with new, specially designed transmitters and tracking equipment to improve the success of tracking process.
  • Together with University of Oxford implementing the project “Exploring the effective use of celebrities in wildlife demand reduction: changing perceptions of pangolins in Vietnam”.
  • We will work with Michelle Shaw, nutritionist from Taronga Zoo to study the palatability van different types of food for animal in our Wildlife rescue center.

previous Research projects

SVW has conducted various studies to learn more about the population trends, ecology and behavior of small carnivore and pangolin. We also focused on human behavior to develop demand reduction campaigns.

  • Social study to understand pangolin consumption behavior
  • Radio-tracking study to monitor Sunda Pangolin
  • Habitat survey in three protected areas in Vietnam, with help of specially trained dogs. These ‘conservation canines’ were trained to locate wild pangolins by smell.
  • Camera trapping in Cat Tien National Park (CTNP)
  • Literature review of Non-Panthera cat species in Vietnam
  • Carnivore and pangolin conservation status in Mekong delta
  • Pangolins in peril: using local hunters’ knowledge to conserve elusive species in Vietnam
  • Carnivores and Pangolins survey in Ke Go and Khe Net lowlands forests
  • Carnivore conservation status survey in Cuc Phuong National Park


26 September, 2017

SVW Winter-spring survey for small carnivores and pangolins (2011)

'2011, Report on the winter - spring survey for small carnivores and pangolins in the…
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Dog detection project
2 June, 2017

Finding Pangolin Using Detector Dog Project: Completed

A two-month project looking for pangolins collaborating between University of Washington and Save Vietnam’s Wildlife…
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