The Pangolin is the world's most trafficked animal, yet this statistic goes unnoticed in most conservation debates. Domestic and international trade poses the largest threat to the African pangolins - with over 300 000 pangolins being poached annually. All four pangolin species are widely used in Traditional African Medicines, locally known as muthi - as well as in Asian countries. Pangolins are captured and killed with various parts of the animal – including blood, scales and meat – being used for traditional purposes. As and when trafficked pangolins are confiscated by authorities through sting operations, the animals are severely compromised and require immediate veterinary care, as well as prolonged intensive care and rehabilitation before being released back into the wild.
We are fundraising to cover the expenses necessary for initial stabilisation and intensive veterinary care of rescued Pangolins at Provet Animal Hospital in Hoedspruit, South Africa, as well as the tracking devices used to safeguard the animals' safety after their release back into the wild by the Umoya Khulula Rehabilitation Centre.
What is involved in Pangolin rehabilitation?
Phase 1: Upon arrival at the veterinary practice, various procedures are conducted to assess the pangolin's general condition. These include blood tests, radiographs (thorax & abdomen) and ultrasound. The time kept in captivity by poachers will directly determine the animal's condition and level of care required. The animal is intensively monitored by the veterinarian, involving: daily/twice-daily examinations awake & under anaesthetic; regular blood tests to monitor vital clinical parameters; daily oro-gastric tube feeding; regular/daily intravenous fluid administration; treatment of diagnosed diseases (biliary, pneumonia, endoparasites). Because Pangolins are nocturnal and do not voluntarily feed on offered food - they have to be tube-fed under anaesthesia until they are able to walk and forage for ants & termites, accompanied by volunteers at night time for a minimum of 4 hours.
Phase 2: Once a pangolin has reached a stable condition without needing constant veterinary care, it is transferred to a the registered and approved rehabilitation centre of Umoya Khulula to regain its full health.
Phase 3: After this, the pangolin is released back into the wild using a soft-release method. This involves regular monitoring of its movements and well-being in gradually-increasing intervals, by using the VHF & GPS tags.