Pangolin Caught in Snare

While working in Niassa reserve on the translocation of 100 animals last week, our mobile vet unit was contacted. This was to assist with a young female Pangolin that was caught in a wire snare. The animal was brought to the Niassa HQ. This was where the wildlife conservation society and ANAC staff kept it until we arrived.


The Examination

The examination was very hard. This was because the strong Pangolin was curled, and would not let us see its limbs. For this reason, a light sedative was injected. After 5 minutes, the endangered Pangolin relaxed and we were able to asses the terrible damage, caused by the snare.

The left arm of the poor animal had been amputated by the wire and a severe infection was developing, the picture below illustrates this better than words do. Pangolins use their front limbs to dig and find food. A wild Pangolin with only one arm has zero chances for recovery. Therefore, a clinical decision was made to proceed with euthanasia. Working with wild animals in remote locations is not always easy. Often the animals we treat can not be saved. In this case euthanasia was the most ethical option left.

Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal in the world. With more than a million snatched from the wild in the past decade. The four Asian species have been hunted nearly to extinction. Meanwhile, the four African species are being poached in record numbers.

The illegal trade largely goes to China and other East Asian nations. This is where pangolin meat is an expensive delicacy served to flaunt wealth and influence. Pangolin is also a preferred ingredient in traditional medicine in Asia and Africa. Traditional healers in Sierra Leone use pangolin to treat 59 medical conditions, though there is no evidence of efficacy.