Releasing a confiscated pangolin
Last week a juvenile male confiscated pangolin was brought to the park by some people who often purchased wildlife from markets in order to rescue them. Although this is done with the best of intentions, all it does is fuel the wildlife trade, when the better option would be to call the Forest Protection Department (FPD) to handle it. Nonetheless, at least it is out of the trade.
The pangolin was a 1kg male and had no obvious injuries and was very strong. It was a difficult situation. The park were keen to release as nothing appeared to be wrong with it. Ideally we would keep it at least over night to observe it, but it was important to be diplomatic.
As it was found being sold alone, the risk of disease transmission and nutritional stress is a lot less compared to those confiscated in large numbers. It was decided that the animal should be released straight away, in a tree hollow with ants and termites nearby and with water left out.
Due to the low weight of the animal, adding a transmitter would have been inadvisable as it would have been more than 1% of its body weight and as yet we don’t know if/how this may affect its behaviour.
All in all, there is still a lot of work to be done to drive an attitudinal change with trade confiscated animals, however, small steps are still important ones and we wish this juvenile all the best in the wild.