26 August 2016
Leading animal welfare and wildlife conservation charity the Born Free Foundation has launched a unique new animal adoption to help protect the world’s most illegally-traded mammal, the pangolin. Pangolin populations are declining rapidly, with one million believed to have been taken from the wild in a recent 10 year period.
Pangi, a rare black-bellied pangolin, was discovered dehydrated and underweight, near the world renowned Dzangha Sangha National Park in the Central African Republic. It is not known what happened to her mother, but the infant would never have survived on her own, as young pangolins, like the infants of most species, are vulnerable and rely on their mothers for milk and protection.
Pangi was lucky to have been found, and taken to a local tourist eco-lodge, where she received expert care under the guidance of Zimbabwe’s Tikki Hywood Trust, experienced at rescuing pangolins. She quickly gained weight and confidence, and two years on, still spends much of her time exploring her wild environment. She is carefully monitored to protect her from hunters, and to gather valuable information about this elusive species.
Gabriel Fava, Programmes Manager for Born Free said: “Pangi’s fate is unusual but fortuitous, and perhaps represents the situation facing the world’s pangolins: hammered by a cruel fate but now being thrown a lifeline. At last, people are at least hearing of the existence of these largely unknown but uniquely wonderful animals, and solid attempts at protection are being made.”
Solitary, shy and secretive, pangolins, Africa and Asia’s scaly anteaters have remained unchanged for the last 70 million years, but little is known about their behaviour and biology. However, we do know that the illegal trade in pangolin scales for medicinal cures and in their meat, consumed as a delicacy and status symbol in Asia, together with their use in Africa as bush meat and in traditional medicine, has left all eight species on the brink of extinction.
Shockingly, it is estimated that at least one pangolin is killed every hour in Asia, and so the protection of this unique animal will be high on the agenda for the Born Free delegation when they attend September’s Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in Johannesburg.
Pangi’s adopters will be helping to provide for her ongoing care and protection, and also supporting vital work to conserve pangolins throughout Africa and Asia.
Also new to Born Free’s family of adoptions, is Teddy the vervet monkey, who is being cared for at Born Free USA’s Primate Sanctuary in Texas. Teddy was bred in a zoo, and taken from her mother when only four months old. She was going to be sold as a pet but fortunately was brought to the safety of the sanctuary, where she will receive a lifetime of care and protection.