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World Pangolin Day

Pelorus Foundation are pleased to celebrate World Pangolin Day on the 18 February by announcing a new partnership with a grassroots pangolin conservation and research NGO based in Namibia.

Working to raise awareness of the plight of the pangolins and promote the innovative conservation solutions being implemented to ensure their survival, Pelorus Foundation are on a mission to save this creature from the brink of extinction. The project is working to protect pangolins from wildlife crime in Southern Africa, whilst gaining valuable data about their survival, ecology, and behaviour helping to inform crucial conservation management planning and strategies. It’s locally headed by Kelsey Prediger, Founder and Executive Director at Pangolin Conservation and Research Foundation (PCRF).

Known as the world’s most trafficked mammal, an estimated one million pangolins were poached in the last decade. These gentle creatures are often hunted for their meat, which is considered a delicacy in some cultures, and for their scales, which are used in traditional medicine. The loss of pangolins not only means the loss of a unique and important species, but the loss of the ecosystems that they play a crucial role in.

“Without pangolins, the ecosystem would be thrown out of balance, and many other species would be affected. We must act now to protect these gentle creatures before it’s too late”

Jane Goodall
Renowned Conservationist

Due to the shy nature of pangolins, research surrounding their conservation remains largely underdeveloped. Being nocturnal creatures, who spend much of their time in burrows, presents certain challenges for building a strong understanding of these animals’ behaviours. The most interaction pangolins have with humans is through the wildlife trade, where their defence mechanism of rolling up into an armoured ball makes them entirely vulnerable to poachers, despite being able to withstand the bite of a lion. If ‘lucky’, the pangolins being captured may be intercepted. But it has been repeatedly reported that, although we know very little of the emotional trauma pangolins face, it’s evident in their behaviour after rescue, including symptoms of trauma, depression, and aggression.

Many intercepted pangolins struggle to ever make a full recovery. At the root of this issue is that, without a comprehensive understanding of pangolins in their natural habitat, their successful rescue, recovery, and rehabilitation is severely hampered. It’s clear that a degree of guesswork regarding the right environment to effectively rehabilitate a traumatised pangolin does not work.

Pelorus Foundation’s local project partner, PCRF works predominantly with the San Bushmen, indigenous hunter gatherers, in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy, as well as supporting post-release monitoring of live confiscated pangolins across Namibia. This work aims to engage the local community to protect pangolins through sustainable livelihoods and pride, and while doing so, build up one the world’s most established databases on the ecology of pangolins in the wild.

When translated into action, stories from the field display the impact Pelorus Foundation’s project partners are having on altering the of the trajectory of pangolins looming extinction.

“Some traditional hunters came across a pangolin while looking for food and were going to eat it. Some of the other community members had heard about our project and stopped them and then they called us. Our ranger team was able to go up and talk with the community about the importance of pangolins and tag the animal for its monitoring. The community is very excited to become a part of the project protecting and researching pangolins. We hope to raise enough money to employ another ranger in this village to protect and monitor the animal even further. This pangolin is also the first we have tagged in an entirely new habitat of Broadleaf Tree and shrub savanna, specifically Northeastern Kalahari Woodlands with interspersed dunes!”

Kelsey Prediger
Founder of PCRF

The involvement of local communities in the projects Pelorus Foundation supports is also an intrinsic element of PCRF, in 2022, 11 rangers across six different villages, with their families were supported through food and clothing packages. The ranger jobs also provide sustainable livelihoods in an area where job opportunities are scare. By offering employment, and education at all levels, the local community is encouraged to see the value in conservation – and the benefits it can bring, working to nurture a generation of pangolin protectors.

Their stories of success are endless, 2022 alone saw the release of 10 live confiscated pangolins, the monitoring of 20 free roaming pangolins and the tagging of five free roaming resident pangolins.

Yet pangolin conservation remains crucially undeveloped and underfunded, we are at serious risk of the pangolin becoming extinct before they’ve been given a chance to thrive. As World Pangolin Day helps build awareness of this remarkable creature, Pelorus Foundation have launched an urgent appeal for funds to help protect pangolins in Southern Africa and help expand the impact and reach of their local project partner.