Giving the world’s most traffic mammal a second chance
GCT has partnered with the Tikki Hywood Trust, (THT), in a unique project to reintroduce to the wild pangolins that have been rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, handed in by general public or born in captivity.
Pangolins are currently recognized as the most highly trafficked mammal in the world, and the species found in southern Africa is classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List. Pangolins that are judged to be ready for release are brought to Gonarezhou and are placed in the care of trained staff – half from THT and half from GCT. They are introduced to the habitats and environmental conditions of Gonarezhou, and over a period of a few weeks they are taken on daily foraging excursions where the handlers make sure that they are able to successfully forage by themselves and navigate their way around the landscape without losing condition. The aim is to keep this period as short as possible, whilst making sure that the animals have acclimatized before their release.
On release they are equipped with VHF trackers, and, the pangolin project staff are then able to follow up on their movements and verify that they are maintaining their condition during the first crucial weeks after their release. This project is still in it’s infancy, and great gains are being made in our knowledge about release and monitoring techniques, and we are confident that this project will give the conservation prospects of this endangered mammal a strong positive boost.