ABSTRACT: Pangolins are among the most valuable and widely traded taxa in the Southeast Asian illegal wildlife trade, yet little is known of their ecology and they are rarely reported in biodiversity surveys. Firstly, this study collated field and museum reports to produce the first distribution maps for the pangolins Manis pentadactyla and M. javanica in Vietnam. We also demonstrated that current biodiversity monitoring methods are rarely successful in recording pangolin presence and that most of the information about their distribution derives from the knowledge of local hunters. Secondly, semi-structured interviews with hunters revealed that the methods used to catch pangolins differed depending on species and site and suggest that the more terrestrial populations of M . pentadactyla are at greater risk from hunting than the more arboreal M. javanica. We highlight the value of applying local hunters’ knowledge to developing ecological study methods and conservation programmes for pangolin species in Southeast Asia.