In late August, this year the Uganda Wildlife Authority UWA and Natural Resource Conservation Network (NRCN) with the guidance and financial assistance from the Tikki Hywood Foundation (THF) rescued a live pangolin, which had been captured by locals and was believed to be destined for the bush meat trade. Thankfully, a local Ugandan with knowledge of wildlife was informed of the capture of the rare scaly mammal and he quickly identified it as a pangolin. He correctly informed the UWA, who were able to take the next course of action. The rescued pangolin was a young female tree pangolin, also known as a white-bellied pangolin. They named her Carmen.
Pangolin or Lugave in luganda language, are also known as scaly anteaters because of their preferred diet of ants and termites and their full armor of scales.
Pangolins are the most trafficked mammals in the world. An estimated 2.7 million animals per year of these shy, primarily nocturnal creatures are removed from the wild each year from Africa. This is mainly due to the demand in Asia for their meat and scales, together with the bushmeat trade. Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy while its scales are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Africa has become the new shopping basket to supply the growing demand in Asia. Tonnes of pangolin scales have been seized in Africa and Asia with the scales having originated from different parts of the African continent. At the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), held In September 2016, all 8 species of pangolin were uplifted to Appendix I through a unanimous vote from all African delegates. The significance of this decision is far reaching and puts an end to and bans all forms of commercial trade of pangolins.
The rescue of little Carmen is the first project of its kind in Uganda, where organisations have collaborated to rescue and release a captured pangolin.
Sadly, this species is in peril. It’s therefore imperative that action for their survival and protection is taken to safeguard the species from extinction. Carmen, was rescued and released thanks to organisations coming together and collaborating. All parties involved in this rescue are working hard so that seized wild animals live free in their natural habitats. UWA, THT and NRCN believe wild animals deserve to be back in their homes, far from cages or any other sense of captivity. They are born free and deserve to keep that status.