The Cape or Temminck’s ground pangolin is one of four species of pangolin found in Africa. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species identifies their status as “vulnerable”. The biggest threat to this animal is poaching and illegal trade. (The Asian pangolin species are listed as endangered.)
The photo above shows a female pangolin that was released in Mana Pools in 2020. She was brought to the Park by Flying for Wildlife from Nyamapanda, on the eastern border of Zimbabwe. Nkululeko “Freedom” Hlongwane, Bushlife Support Unit Manager, is on the left in the picture.
Why are pangolins poached?
Pangolins are poached for their scales, skin, and meat. The illegal trade in African and Asian pangolins is rampant, primarily for use in traditional medicine. The IUCN identifies pangolins as the most illegally trafficked animal in the world, with more than one million poached in the last decade. The population of pangolins found in the Zambezi Valley is decreasing.
What are the characteristics of pangolins?
Pangolins are mammals. They are related to bears, cats, and dogs, although due to their scales, they look more like armadillos. Their scales are made of keratin, the same material as fingernails. Pangolins are active mostly at night. They primarily eat ants and terminates, using their long snouts and tongues. Ground pangolins weigh 4 to 7 pounds. When they feel threatened, pangolins will roll into a ball.
How are we supporting conservation of this species?
We work with Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) to stop the poaching of pangolins and support the release of recovered live pangolins back into the wild.
Since late 2016, we have helped Zimparks recover 24 live pangolins.