Pangolin found near Polokwane

The seized Temminck's ground (Smutsia temminckii) pangolin.

TZANEEN – A female Temminck’s ground (Smutsia temminckii) pangolin, also known as scaly anteater, has been seized by the authorities and three people have been arrested.

The case will be heard in the Tzaneen Magistrate’s Court.

The poachers were stealing the leaves from the tree catha edulus also known as Bushman’s Tea, in the mountains around Ohrigstad.

While stealing the leaves a pangolin, a predominantly nocturnal animal, was discovered and taken home to an impoverished township near Polokwane.

In trying to sell the pangolin, the most trafficked mammal on earth, the poachers approached a farmer who, although he’d never seen such an animal, contacted the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Most people do not know pangolins as they are such shy and unobtrusive animals.

Negotiations began at this low level but failed, then a nature reserve was called in to assist. The manager offered the poachers a substantial amount of money and the arrests followed shortly thereafter.

It’s believed this pangolin had been out of her natural environment for the past three days. She was subsequently released into a nature reserve.

There is another pangolin case pending in the Tzaneen courts.

There are four pangolin species in Asia and another four in Africa. As recently as 2016, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) moved all eight pangolins onto Appendix one of the CITES list.

This means that any trade in pangolins and or their body parts is now illegal. As pangolin populations in Asia dwindle, more and more are now being captured in Africa to meet the ever-growing Chinese and Vietnamese demand.

Pangolin scales are made of keratin but are an important ingredient for centuries-old traditional Asian medical remedies.

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Sue Ettmayr

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