LOOK: Baby pangolin rescued from poachers
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DURBAN – A baby Temminck’s ground pangolin was rescued from poachers during a joint operation led by members of the police and animal protection groups in a recent operation in Johannesburg.
After a medical check-up it was then taken to an undisclosed location for protection.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital said the joint operation was a team effort between African Pangolin Working Group, South African Police Service, Cullinan STES, BHS Detective Station, BHS K9, Benoni K9, Silverton K9, Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Green Scorpions) and Pangolin K9.
The pangolin, which is an endangered species, was first taken to the hospital that treats indigenous wildlife free of charge. The hospital relies on the community for donations and support.
“All pangolins are housed off site at an undisclosed location for the protection of them as well as our staff,” said the hospital management in a statement.
The hospital said the male pangolin weighed in at 2.6kgs.
Upon admission, Dr Kelsey took blood sampoles and did tests under sedation to gain a better understanding of the pangolin’s overall health.
In addition, the hospital said the juvenile pangolin underwent a computerised tomography (CT) scan which combines a series of X-ray images taken from different angles around its body.
“A CT scan is standard protocol for all pangolin patients to ensure that we can do everything possible for them as well as see what underlying conditions we might not be able to pick up otherwise.
“Overall, this pup is in good health, but does however have a mild lung infection which we are treating and monitoring carefully,” said the statement.
The hospital said a pangolin, at this young age, would ordinarily still have been with his mother in the wild.
“Our efforts to try and imitate this behaviour includes daily walks to forage for termites and ants, but also feeding with a specialised milk formula which he loves.
“Our sincere thanks to everyone involved in saving another precious life,” said the statement.
According to the African Pangolin Working Group’s website, although large predators, starvation, fires and possibly disease, pose a threat to wild pangolins, the vast majority of threats facing pangolins today are from humans.
“Domestic trade probably poses the largest threat to African pangolins at present, although the illegal international trade is rapidly emerging as a major threat. All four African pangolin species are widely used in traditional African medicines. Some cultures believe that pangolins are the greatest gift that can be bestowed on a person of authority and in the past, many pangolins were presented to tribal chiefs and ministers as a sign of respect.”