In Zimbia, three smugglers are behind bars after they were caught planning to sell a mother and baby pangolin on the black market after poaching the rare creature.
On June 12, Zambian authorities found and identified the horrified animals after hunting down the smugglers for a full week. They finally had a taste of their own medicine being the hunted ones for once.
When their rescuers found them, the mother and baby pangolin were stashed in a wooden box with the two of them clinging to each other in a defensive posture.
“From the poor condition of the mother and baby, it is thought that they had been in captivity for over two weeks,” Vicky Flynn of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation told The Dodo.
Now, the animals are being rehabilitated by the GRI Wildlife Crime Prevention Project. They were traumatized as the unfeeling smugglers treated the animals terribly while in captivity.
Reportedly, the animals were weakened during their time spent in the small box. After their rescuers helped them recover, the pangolins will be released into the Kafue National Park where they’ll be free. The Park is the largest national park in the African country of Zambia.
“They seem to be eating, which is a great sign,” Annekim Geerdes of the GRI Wildlife Vet Program, said in a statement, according to The Dodo. “They will be given a chance to rest and eat well again.”
During their rehabilitation, the nocturnal pangolins will be taken out for a walk where they can feed on their favorite bugs. Geerdes is the one in charge of these excursions.
Asian markets demand the meat and scales of the pangolins. Therefore, smugglers hunt and capture these mammals for a few extra bucks.
Recently, the pangolins have become the most widely traded wild mammal on the planet. Between 2011 and 2013 alone, more than 233,980 pangolins were killed so Asians could feed on their meat and collect their scales for various purposes.
Over the weekend on June 18, two people, including one member of the Indonesian army were caught and arrested after they tried to smuggle eight critically-endangered pangolins in Medan, North Sumatra, Jakarta Globe reports.
The head of law enforcement at the Sumatra Environment and Forestry Authority, Tulus Hutahuruk admits that just one pangolin sells for around sells for around $375 in North Sumatra on the black market. That’s a lot of money in that poor part of the world.
Here are three facts about this wild mammal:
1) A pangolin’s tongue can be longer than its body. It starts deep in the chest cavity and its used to collect insects.
2) Pangolins are the only mammal on the entire planet who are covered in scales. Their scales are the same material as rhino horns, bird talons, or human fingernails.
3) They protect themselves by rolling into a ball and lashing out at predators with their scaly tail which can cut easily. They also release a noxious-smelling acid from glands near their bums just like a skunk.