In Zimbabwe there are a group of men that have dedicated their lives to saving one of the most endangered mammals. The Pangolins is the world’s most trafficked mammal and humans have taken a huge toll on their existence. You’ll be blown away by how hard these men work to save one little creature from becoming extinct.
The Pangolin, also known as the scaly anteater, is both an African and Asian mammal. They are about the size of a small cat and are covered in horned scales. They’re also quite a peculiar creature.
19. Curled Up
When a Pangolin notices a threat, they have a defense mechanism that is pretty interesting. They use their scales to curl up into a ball and protect themselves. This turns them into a spiky ball upon touch.
18. Solitary Species
Not much is known about the Pangolin’s behavior as they are quite a solitary species. They are also nocturnal and tend to burrow underground a lot. This leaves their species as a great mystery to all…
17. Under Threat
Unfortunately for this amazing species, they are currently under a serious threat. The Pangolin is the world’s most trafficked mammal. But why is that?
16. The Reason
There are many reasons for why the Pangolin is poached for so frequently. One of the biggest reasons for it being hunted down is for its meat. The meat is considered a delicacy in Asian countries. However, there is also another reason and it’s even more intriguing.
15. Ancient Magic
Many people still believe that the Pangolin has magical and curative properties. They believe that the scales work against witchcraft and evil spirits. These are some of the reasons for why this beautiful animal has been so hunted down.
14. The ‘Pangolin’ Men
Acknowledging that the species was in need of dire help, men from The Tikki Hywood Trust in Zimbabwe have been working hard to keep the Pangolins safe. The Pangolin minders, as they are called, are assigned a Pangolin a day that they take care of and help.
Hearing about these men’s dedication to the Pangolins, one photographer decided to head out to Zimbabwe to capture these amazing moments. The photographer was Adrian Steirn and he wanted to bring more awareness to the issue through his work.
12. Adrian’s Word
“Pangolins are a mammal that most people have never heard of. Yet they are the most trafficked mammals on our planet, with more than one million wild pangolins have been illegally hunted and killed in the last decade alone,” Adrian stated.
“They’re one of the most difficult animals to see and photograph in Africa – what’s often referred to as a ‘lifer’, a once in a lifetime sighting. So my task going into this shoot was to take an empathetic portrait and to make people care – to get them asking questions.”
Through his mission, Adrian was able to see the men at work with the Pangolins. He was able to see the Pangolins unique behavior and how they interact with the men that are working so hard to save their lives.
9. Hard Job
Adrian then went on to explain the job, stating, “For the men, it is an incredibly labour intensive process. Their minders do everything for them – carry them around, feed them. It’s massively time consuming and it’s a job that you really can’t have an ego for.”
8. No Recognition
“There’s no recognition or exposure, once an animal reaches a certain weight, it’s released and these men carry on with their work.” Adrian was blown away by the amount of work the minders put in. He couldn’t fathom it for a while…
The Tikki Hywood Trust works hard to ensure that every injured or rescued Pangolin is cared for. They often rescue them from trade and nurse them back to health until the Pangolin is ready to go back into the wild. It is not an easy job…
“A lot of pangolins we were receiving were the victims of poaching incidents, where there were very limited consequences for poachers – small fines and a slap on the wrist,” Hywood stated. The organization worked hard to change the consequences and you won’t believe what happened…
4. High Penalty
“Now Zimbabwe has the fourth highest penalty in Africa for pangolin poaching. In Zimbabwe if you’re found in illegal possession of a pangolin it’s a US $5000 fine and a nine-year jail term,” said Hywood.
3. The Photos
Hywood hopes that the photographs that Adrian took will help to gain more attention from the world. Not many people are aware of this huge crisis and a global outcry would help the Pangolin situation improve even more.
2. The Essence
“Adrian has been able to touch on the essence of a pangolin by bringing man and animal together in a very unique way. He has shown not only the sensitivity of the minders that spend a great deal of their life taking care of these animals, but he’s been able to bring the mystery of the pangolin to the fore.”
“I hope that it achieves a level of enlightenment about the threats facing pangolins. If it touches people who have never heard of a pangolin, it will have been successful,” Adrian said. It is amazing to see the dedication of the people of Zimbabwe in helping to further protect this amazing species.