Protecting our Precious Pangolin

Every year, the month of February is used to highlight the plight of the Pangolin. Now more than ever, it has become vital for protected areas and game reserves to provide a safe haven for these vulnerable creatures who play a critical role in their ecosystems, living as an all-natural pest control in the wild.

The Pangolin – a small scaled mammal, facing an enormous dilemma.

They are the most trafficked animals in the world and are edging ever closer to extinction. In just one year (2019), an estimated 195 000 pangolins were trafficked just for their scales. That’s alarming, since the small scaled mammals have long been under enormous threat. The dramatic rise in the illegal hunting of the pangolin for its scales and meat, has now led to increased protection for the animal in some countries. China is an example of this, and their native pangolin has been protected there since 2020.

Photograph © Bertie Guilaume

Former EcoTraining student, Amy Aucamp-Clark, founded the Scales Conservation Fund NPC which focuses on partnering with ethical and passionate non-profit conservation organizations to assist them in their endeavors. So too, the Scales Pangolin Rescue Fund was started as an initiative to create awareness of the urgent need to save pangolins from the illegal and escalating wildlife trade.

“Working with the experts, we provide funding to cover the extensive treatment and rehabilitation an individual pangolin must go through after being rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, so that they may be successfully released back in to the wild,” says Aucamp-Clark.

As the human population steadily increases, wilderness areas are encroached on and electric fences are erected to reduce human/animal conflict. But these fences also pose a huge threat to pangolin.

It is estimated that 500 to 1000 pangolins are killed every year by electric fences, which places additional pressure on an already endangered species. EcoTraining Training Manager, David Havemann, says:

“I have never seen a live pangolin in the wilderness before, and the ones that I have seen had been electrocuted by game fences which are a massive threat to pangolin survival.”

Photograph © Alex van den Heever

Of course, awareness is key to the Pangolin’s survival. And if you know that only 8% of people know what a pangolin is – according to the WWF – then just talking about them goes a long way to saving their species.

Also see: www.scales.org.za and read more about pangolin conservation by the African Pangolin Working Group on www.africanpangolin.org

Real-life Sighting | A Pangolin in Makuleke

It’s not every day that you are blessed with such an amazing sighting.

Instructor Sean Matthewson and our EcoTraining students came across this beauty recently at our Makuleke Camp.

About the Author: 

Keri Harvey is a Travel Writer and Photographer, travelling for Keri is life, like breathing.