WAKA AND SUBI – Finding Freedom in Uganda
On the 21st of October, two young pangolins were rescued in Uganda. This rescue involved co-ordination from Ugandan Wildlife Authorities (UWA) together with Natural Resource Conservation Network (NRCN) team, who have shown total dedication in the fight against illegal wildlife trade.
NRCN team caught a poacher who was illegally transporting two live pangolins. They had been captured in a town called Gulu in the North of Uganda and been transported to Kampala, where they were going to be sold. During the operation the poacher managed to escape, fortunately leaving the two pangolins behind. The NRCN team immediately contacted the The Tikki Hywood Foundation team on ground to carry out the rescue and release of the two animals.
Both pangolins were found very stressed after been transported for more than five hours from Gulu to Kampula rolled up in a sack. Thankfully they were both in relatively stable condition. One of the pangolins seemed to have been in captivity longer than the other smaller one and was also the weakest. Once the Tikki Hywood Foundation team received the animals, the necessary procedures of cleaning, measuring and weighing them began. The ground team assessed their general health to establish if they were strong enough for immediate release.
Both of the pangolins are white bellied tree pangolin. The most active and youngest pangolin was named “Waka” meaning “Home” and the second pangolin was, was named “Subi” meaning “Hope”.
The Ugandan Wildlife Authority (UWA) was informed about the seizure and the Head of the Law Enforcement Unit, Margaret Kasumba took immediate action. Even though this operation took place over a weekend, UWA acted instantaneously and efficiently.
A safe release site which had already been identified in the past under a Uganda Conservation Foundation project thanks to the funds of from the David Shepard Wildlife Foundation, was selected. A UWA officer escorted the pangolins to the secure site while at the same time the officers in charge of receiving the pangolins in the selected area were alerted and made the necessary preparations.
With everything in place Waka and Subi began their trip back to freedom arriving late at night. As it was dark and all parties including the pangolins had had a very stressful day, it was decided that sleep was the best option and at dawn the pangolin would be release – slightly more refreshed.
The pangolin slept during the night safe and secure in travel boxes donated by the David Shepard Wildlife Foundation to UWA.
Waka ran from the crate, eager to be free and away from humans, while Subi took a bit more time to I observe this new environment and perhaps was in disbelief that he was being set free. A tragic story with a happy ending.
This rescue and release could not have taken place without the multiple stakeholders and authorities working together to achieve the same objective fighting against wildlife trafficking and releasing those animals which are rescued alive.