‘Pangolins near extinction’

Fungai Lupande Herald Reporter
The Tikki Hywood Trust has commended the Government for its efforts in protecting pangolins which were placed on the Specially Protected Species list since 1975 due to their being highly threatened with extinction. In an interview, Tikki Hywood Trust zoologist Ms Ellen Connelly said pangolins were in danger of becoming extinct.

“We have no accurate population census for pangolins in Zimbabwe, and indeed throughout all the range states where they occur, in both Africa and Asia,” she said.

“We can assume that they are highly threatened with extinction due to the current rate of removal of this animal from its natural environment.

“Added to this is, there is the loss of habitat and food through encroachment of human activities and this spells disaster for a species to continue its existence unassisted.”

Ms Connelly applauded the judicial system and the police for ensuring that poachers are brought to book.

“Although a firm law is deterrent, our aim is for Zimbabweans to embrace this animal as an important part of our heritage,” she said. “We want to engender a spirit of conservation and protection.

Pangolins are harmless, they cannot bite and will only react aggressively if threatened.

“Their diet is exclusively ants, ant eggs and termites and termite eggs. Pangolins have officially been recognised as the most traded mammal in Asia, making them very endangered.”

“In Zimbabwe we only have one species of the eight occurring worldwide and it is called a Ground Pangolin.” Ms Connelly said her organisation is involved with the rescue, release and rehabilitation of the pangolin.

“We also work with Kirsty Coventry, who is officially Zimbabwe’s Pangolin Ambassador,” she said.

“The demand for pangolin scales and meat is very high. Ironically, pangolin scales are made of the same stuff as rhino horn called Keratin,” she said.