Temminck’s pangolins are being reintroduced to KwaZulu-Natal. Photo: Facebook/African Pangolin Working Group
Temminck’s pangolins are being reintroduced to KwaZulu-Natal. Photo: Facebook/African Pangolin Working Group

Pangolins returned to KZN where they were once extinct for 40 years

By Chad Anthony Williams Time of article published Jun 24, 2020

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Cape Town - Temminck’s pangolins have been “ecologically extinct” in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province for the past 30 or 40 years, but a new programme managed by the African Pangolin Working Group is reintroducing the scaly anteaters back into this region, writes environmental news website Mongabay.

The African Pangolin Working Group puts the animals through a “soft release” programme and continues to closely monitor them through GPS satellite and VHF radio tracking tags.

In 2019, seven pangolins were released at andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal; two died of natural causes, but the remaining five are doing well.

Local conservationists in KwaZulu-Natal are working to slowly reintroduce these sensitive animals in a world-first effort to reinstate wild populations.

Pangolins are considered to be one of the most widely trafficked animals in the world, despite the trade being prohibited under CITES, which is a treaty that protects endangered animals and plants, writes Mongabay.

Due to the trade’s illegality, poachers and smugglers work hard to avoid detection, but authorities still manage to intercept thousands of these trafficked animals and their body parts each year. 

In 2019 alone, authorities seized more than 97 tons of scales from more than 150,000 African pangolins, according to the African Pangolin Working Group.

In June, the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) Endangered Species Unit retrieved a male Temminck's ground pangolin after arresting a suspect.

The man was charged with being in the possession of an endangered species.

The pangolin had been caught in a wire snare and had wounds around its body. It is under the care of a veterinarian.

The group says positive collaboration between pangolin organisations is key to the successful retrieval, treatment and release of poached pangolins.

Meanwhile, recently the Chinese government banned pangolin scales from use in traditional Chinese medicine and elevated pangolins to be a level-one protected species in the country.

According to conservationists, this move will completely shut down the commercial trade of pangolin parts within China and slow the international trade of the species, writes Mongabay.

African News Agency/ANA

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