The Tikki Hywood Foundation is fortunate to work in other countries within Africa, especially when it comes to endangered species such as Pangolins. This wouldn’t be possible without collaborating with dedicated individuals, organisations and teams on the ground.
The Foundation started working in Uganda in September 2017. In April 2018, Lisa Hywood went to Uganda and met with Rebeca Sandoval, she is the THF (Tikki Hywood Foundation) representative on the ground in Kampala. Rebeca has developed an excellent working relationship with UWA (Ugandan Wildlife Authorities) and whilst Lisa was in Uganda, the Ugandan Pangolin Guardians were established. This is a group of men and woman from UWA and the police, they are all involved in wildlife protection, be it through the court system or on the ground. A team of men and women who want to protect their Ugandan heritage. Lisa was fortunate enough to spend time with these passionate people, explaining the need to protect not just Pangolins but all wildlife. As a collective, these committed people strategise a way to continue saving Pangolins in Uganda. Today the Tikki Hywood Foundation, under Rebeca’s guidance, is still rescuing and saving Ugandan Pangolins from the illegal wildlife trade.
A Scent of Freedom ……Image Credit : Rebeca Sandoval
On the 22nd of March 2020, UWA investigators got word of a Pangolin being sold in the neighbourhood Bugolobi, in Kampala. The suspects were arrested and the traumatised animal was rescued. This was a young male white-bellied Pangolin who thankfully was strong enough for a quick release. We are eternally grateful to the UWA team who made this possible with the support from THF.
Male Pangolin rescued and released the next day Image Credit: Rebeca Sandoval
On the 4th of April, another day and another species, a ground Pangolin was rescued and then released in Kidepo. Fortunately, this ground Pangolin was handed into the Gulu police by the community and was not a criminal case. It is heartening when the community get involved in the recovery of Pangolin and realise that these animals have value for the next generation.
The ground pangolin and members of UWA getting ready to go to the release site
On the 7th of April, Rebeca was called to assist by the authorities as three Pangolins had been confiscated and one of the three Pangolins was a baby. It is heart-wrenching when a mother and baby are recovered as all too often the mothers are so traumatised, they reject the babies or have no milk due to the stress element of being captured and starved while with the poachers. These Pangolins had been rescued from a district called Nakasongola, an area about 100 km from Kampala. Five men were attempting to sell the Pangolins. UWA got word of this illicit business and moved into action, despite the coronavirus lockdown in the country. The officers arrested the suspects, who were and taken to the police, while the three Pangolins were brought to Kampala, where the THF team was able to do the necessary medical assessments.
Three Pangolins rescued from poachers Image Credit Rebeca Sandoval
There was an adult male who was strong but dehydrated, the remaining two were a mother and a young baby. Since the male was healthy and had no medical challenges, he was released quickly. The baby was ice cold to the touch and very weak. Being only a couple of weeks old, and so dependent on her mother, the odds of her survival were extremely low. It was obvious that the mother, due to the trauma and stress of being captured had rejected the baby. Rebeca immediately took both mother and baby into her care and nursed the two of them for the next 24 hours. With the baby not bonding with the mother, the THF team started to prepare for the hand-raising of this little baby. Urgently the babies body temperature had to be increased, all efforts were made to try and revive this little girl – sadly due to multiple reasons ranging from stress, starvation and hypothermia, this little baby succumbed and died not long after being rescued.
The little girl did not make it Image Credit: Rebeca Sandoval
The mother Pangolin was still active, fortunately, she drank water and the team managed to walk her at night where she ate plenty of ants and termites. Being able to monitor her and see that her best option now after being poached and the loss of her baby would be getting her back into her natural environment as soon as possible. Arrangements were made and by the next evening, this little lady was finally free.
Mother pangolin was set free
On the 2nd of May, another mother and her baby were rescued by the UWA from trade. Thankfully these two White-bellied Pangolins were found in time and were uninjured, healthy and strong. This baby was much older and was already riding on her mother’s back and learning about life. With all these positive signs a quick release is always advocated. Once again our sincere thanks to UWA for undertaking this release even during these difficult times of Covid-19.
Mother and baby recovered from their traumatic experience and were released back into the wild Image Credit: Rebeca Sandoval
On the 4th of May, we were alerted to yet another Pangolin rescue. We are delighted to report that this latest Pangolin was also handed in by the community. A young female white-bellied Pangolin, who is strong and highly active. There were no medical issues and she was in good health. After two days in care to confirm that all was well, she was released on the 6th of May.
Female pangolin handed in by the community. She was safely released Image Credit: Rebeca Sandoval
It seems that the rescues will only continue – at the time of posting this newsletter yet another rescue is underway………
Rescued female white-bellied pangolin Image Credit: Rebeca Sandoval
None of these rescues would have been possible without the good working relationship between the THF, UWA and the communities. With Coronavirus and all the dynamics this pandemic has brought to the globe we can only stress how grateful we are that in Uganda, the Authorities see the Pangolin as a species that needs their assistance and support in order to save and protect them. We will continue to do whatever we can to make sure that as many Pangolins as possible find their way back into safe wild environments.