Rescued pangolin gives birth in Limpopo

Posted on 7 September 2020

A mature female Temminck’s pangolin was retrieved out of the illegal trade by the South African Police Service’s Endangered Species Unit on April 25 in the Alldays region of Limpopo Province. She was transported to a Polokwane veterinarian which is where the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital’s Dr Karin Lourens drove to assist with the stabilising and initial examination. During an abdominal ultrasound, it was discovered that Ally was pregnant!

Pangolins which have been poached are always compromised, some worse than others, and they require a period of veterinary treatment. Once ensconced at a secure location in Johannesburg, Ally could begin to recover both psychologically and physically from her trauma. It was important for her to recover as quickly and gently as possible to prevent her miscarrying her pup because of the high stress levels she had endured.

Ally also had pneumonia but regular blood tests, CT scans and ultrasounds along with careful nursing ensured that she received the best care and her pup continued to develop normally. A few weeks later, Ally was feeding well, her lungs had cleared and she had gained enough weight to be placed into her release phase.

She was transported to a release site carefully selected by the African Pangolin Working Group in the Limpopo Valley. VHF and satellite telemetry tags were attached to her scales to enable the post release monitoring – this is critical to ensure the animal’s well being and distribution. Ally eventually settled into an area with diverse ant species, found good burrows and relaxed into typical pangolin behavior.

BREAKING NEWS: A mature female Temminck’s pangolin was retrieved out of the illegal trade by the South African Police…

Posted by Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital on Sunday, 6 September 2020

Some weeks later, the APWG’s experienced release team noticed that Ally had kept the same burrow for a couple of weeks and placed camera traps to continue monitoring her. This is an ideal way of monitoring the animal without causing any distress which could affect her pregnancy or unsettle Ally.

In one of these recordings, the team saw that Ally had given birth and her pup was in the burrow! ‘This is the first ever record of one of our successfully retrieved and rehabilitated Temminck’s pangolins giving birth in the wild, after release. We are all thrilled to share this wonderful success story and wish our born free pangolin pup a safe, long and wild life!’

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