8 November 2016
Together with Zimbabwean conservation group the Tikki Hywood Trust, a group
of Zimbabweans is contributing to the care and protection of the Temminck's ground
pangolin, as well as creating awareness of the plight of this bizarre and reclusive
mammal that not many know even exists.
Commonly called "scaly anteaters", pangolins are mammals distinctive for their
protective keratin scales and largely solitary existence. The animal is hunted for its
meat and scales, and is the most illegally trafficked mammal in the world. They eat
ants and termites using an extraordinarily long, sticky tongue, and are able to
quickly roll themselves up into a tight ball when threatened. There are eight species
All eight species – four in Africa, including the Temminck’s ground pangolin
found in Zimbabwe and South Africa – are listed by the International Union for
Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) as vulnerable, endangered or
critically endangered. At the CITES CoP17 conference in October 2016, all eight
species of pangolin were up-listed to an outright ban on all international commercial
trade of the animal and its by-products.
The Tikki Hywood Trust
The Tikki Hywood Trust, a wildlife NGO, was founded in 1994 to raise
awareness of and sound conservation practices for lesser known, endangered fauna
and flora globally, with a focus on the diversity of threatened species in Zimbabwe
and the rest of southern Africa.
The trust also runs successful breeding and protection programmes to augment
dwindling wild populations. These programmes design and implement standards and
protocols, including captive management and animal rehabilitation. The trust's
efforts include working with a group of young Zimbabweans to rehabilitate captured
and injured pangolins, as well spreading the word about the mammals'
Watch the video on the group's work below:
The guardian group is "entrusted with caring for animals that have endured
major stress, often having been transported many kilometres bound in a sack,
starved and dehydrated", according to the Beautiful News website on 2 November
While rehabilitation of the pangolins can be long and arduous, with the animal's
instinctive reluctance to interact with humans a major obstacle to building trust in
the relationship, the group does this with a deep respect and love for the animal.
"They have developed an intimate relationship while caring for them. Pangolins
are like their children. And like any parent, they will protect their family from
anything that poses a threat," the report says.
Australian photographer Adrian Steirn, well known for his extensive nature
photography and the 21 Icons portrait series, has released a series of
photographs highlighting the group's important work and their special relationship
with the animals.
Watch a video of Steirn's project below:
The photo series inaugurated Steirn's Beautiful News digital platform, which
continues his ongoing journey of portraying a true reflection of South Africa and the
rest of the continent.
As the story of the Zimbabwean pangolin protectors aptly illustrates, Steirn
hopes the new multi-media platform will "continue sharing powerful messages,
reflecting the deeds and actions of the everyman in an inclusive and engaging
Source: Beautiful NewsSouthAfrica.info reporterWould you like to use this article in your
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The ground pangolin is one of four species of pangolin found in Africa, predominately in east and southern Africa. As the most illegally trafficked mammal in the world, the commercial trade of pangolins, its meat and scales, is banned outright globally, as agreed at the CITES CoP17 conference in October 2016. (Image: Flauna)