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Pangolin Paradise in Vietnam

By Dave Armstrong - 22 May 2013 9:41:16 GMT
Pangolin Paradise in Vietnam

The little female Manis javanica has been released and seems to find this habitat to her satisfaction, given her liking for ants and termites; Pangolin image; Credit: © CPCP/ Royal Zoological Society

Tran Quang Phuong is an EDGE worker who has the Zoological Society of London to thank for his membership of an exclusive club: program manager for carnivore and pangolin conservation in Vietnam. He is currently returning pangolins to the wild in Cat Tien National Park, which is 150km north of Ho Chi Minh City.

The tragedy of the pangolin is the old story of Chinese medicine. For some reason, they believe the scales (and/or meat and skin) have some value in healing. Vietnam is presently busy dealing with domestic dog-eating practices and their imports, but the pangolin problem also involves quite large numbers of captured animals.

The facilities for pangolin rescue often get overcrowded with confiscated Sunda pangolins. The Manis javanica are very adaptable, apparently, and can be released in safe environments with a little after-care. They are very liable to stress, though. The pangolin is a general feeder, with termites and ants high on the menu. In trees the ants are numerous, while hollows and burrows on the ground can suffice for sleeping accommodation. These can be found in several National Parks in Vietnam.

Cat Tien has just been used for the first time despite the fact it's full of primary and secondary tropical forest! The first female pangolin was placed into a soft-release enclosure to be monitored for stress behaviour a month ago. After her release into the forest last week, she seems to be fine, thanks to a radio transmitter attached to her scales. The gentle care and attention given by the EDGE team seems to have worked.

The video of the release can be viewed here.

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Topics: Endangered Species