The work of Tikki Hywood Foundation
Each quarter Nature Picture library supports a conservation project and for the quarter October to December 2019 we supported pangolin conversation through the Tikki Hywood Foundation. Founded in 1994 by Lisa Hywood, the Tikki Hywood Foundation is a non-profit rescue, rehabilitation and release organisation. It strives to bring recognition, awareness and sustainable conservation action to lesser known endangered species, such as the pangolin. In fact, the Foundation aims towards sustainable and holistic management of ecosystems, as outlined in their mission statement. This reads: “Utilising conservation and education as stepping stones towards a future where humans live in harmony with wildlife”.
Our Contribution – update March 2020
Our donation contributed to the manufacture of pangolin boxes which are essential in the rescue and rehabilitation process. These specially designed pangolin boxes are used for secure and safe transportation and denning. As Kerne Mackie of Tikki Hywood Foundation said, “Your donation enabled us to make a total of 5 pangolin boxes. Thank you so much!”
Photos above courtesy Tikki Hywood Foundation
The story behind the pangolin releases in February 2020
Kerne Mackie from Tikki Hywood Foundation told us the story of how two pangolins were rescued using the pangolin boxes which NPL funded as part of our donation:
“The pictures above show two different pangolins. The first is a big female pangolin THT214, who was rescued in a town called Kadoma. She was in relatively good condition, and weighed a healthy 11.6kgs. She came into our care on the 3rd of January 2020 and we released her on the 1st of February 2020.”
“The second pangolin is THT209, nicknamed Ramangwana (which means destiny/fate). She was found in a small town called Mvuma, handed in to Mvuma Parks, and then moved to National Parks in Masvingo. She was destined for immediate release, but injured herself overnight. The injury was quite severe, so she was moved to our care in Harare on the 4th of December 2019. Her index claw on her right front hand was missing. Due to this injury she had to stay with us to allow time for the wound to heal and so we could check how she would manage to forage for ants without her claw. She was successfully released on the 1st of February 2020.”
Pangolins under Threat
Pangolins, or Scaly anteaters, are native to Southern Africa and South East Asia. There are 8 species, all of which are threatened. Indeed, the 4 Asian species are all endangered, according to the IUCN Red Data List. There are two main threats to pangolins. Firstly, they are illegally hunted for their meat, prized as a delicacy in China and Vietnam. Secondly, there is extensive trade in their scales, used in traditional Asian medicine. The pangolin is now the world’s most illegally trafficked mammal, demonstrating the importance of supporting pangolin conservation.
New Story on Pangolin conservation
We have a new feature story on pangolin conservation with images by Neil Aldridge. He documents the work of another conservation group, Rhino Revolution. This organisation is helping to rescue and rehabilitate pangolins, in South Africa. Alarmingly, the African pangolin species are now also increasingly the target of poachers. This is not only for bush-meat, but also due to the demand from Asia for their scales for use in traditional medicine. Again, this points up the vital importance now of supporting pangolin conservation.
You can view our story pdf here. Take a look, to find out the facts about the illegal pangolin trade and the myths behind the supposed medicinal benefits of their scales. These are made of keratin, the same substance as rhino horn, which in fact has no proven medicinal benefit whatever. Both pangolins and rhinos are threatened with extinction due to poaching and illegal trade.
The rescued pangolins are often stressed, dehydrated and malnourished on arrival. First they require round the clock medical supervision and staff feed them with a liquid protein supplement. As a result, they are able to build up their strength. Finally, after rehabilitation and release, researchers track them by both radio and satellite to monitor their progress.