A mission to protect southern Africa′s threatened pangolins | Global Ideas | DW | 29.09.2021

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Global Ideas

A mission to protect southern Africa's threatened pangolins

Pangolins, sought after for their meat and scales, are the world's most trafficked mammals. Meet the organizations in Africa trying to safeguard these endangered scaly animals.

Watch video 07:07

Wildlife trafficking: Pangolins under pressure

Veterinarian Kelsey Skinner administers anesthetic to a tiny 2.6 kilo (5.7 pound) pangolin. Police discovered the baby male on the edges of the South African city of Pretoria while on the search for illegal wildlife traders.

It's not the first time Skinner, who is a vet at the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital, has examined a rescued pangolin. The creatures are the most trafficked mammals in the world. They're sought after for their scales, which are used in Asian traditional medicine. Their meat is also seen as a delicacy.

Raymond Jansen from the African Pangolin Working Group has been helping South African police to rescue captured pangolins for years. He took part in the operation that saved this young male, who like other such animals will be rehabilitated and released into the wild if possible.

The pangolin faces similar dangers from poachers in Namibia where Kelsey Prediger of the Pangolin Conservation and Research Foundation is working to protect the animals. The zoologist conducts research on the pangolins' behavior in the wild, which has been shrouded in mystery. The hope is that the data could help with conservation efforts.

A woman and a man stand over a pangolin burrow  

Kelsey Prediger and pangolin ranger Zwane Kanyeva install a camera trap next to a pangolin burrow used by a resident pangolin in the south of Namibia

Project: Pangolin Conservation & Research Foundation (PCRF), Namibia

Aim: Protect pangolins through research, awareness and community engagement in southern Africa. PCRF hopes to help inform conservation management plans, guidelines, and action through research and community projects

Project: Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital

Aim: Treating trafficked pangolins to get them healthy for release into the wild through the African Pangolin Working Group

Project: African Pangolin Working Group (APWG), South Africa

Aim: Conservation of all four African pangolin species through raising public awareness, developing partnerships and generating knowledge. The APWG is involved in pangolin retrievals, transport, release and long-term monitoring

A film by Henner Frankenfeld and Cornelia Borrmann

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