Dithlong (nicknamed Ditsi) the pangolin really loves swimming and is enjoying a dip at her new home in South Africa’s Manyoni Private Game Reserve.
Ditsi was rescued from poachers who had stolen her from her home in the wild. Manyoni Private Game Reserve explains that Ditsi is a Temminck’s pangolin and is being rehabilitated with the help of Zululand Conservation Trust.
“She was rescued from the illegal wildlife trade during a sting operation led by law enforcement officers,” the reserve says. “This helpless pangolin was taken by illegal traffickers in the North-Western province of South Africa in 2021. Thankfully at Manyoni, she is recovering well and enjoying her refreshing afternoon swims.”
She really does enjoy her dips in the water making sure to give herself a back rub in the muddy water and stretches out her tail to get a full soak.
When Ditsi is released back into the wild she will be monitored by a team at Zululand Conservation Trust. The group will be monitoring her to get a better understanding of her behaviour in the wild which will assist them in conservation efforts.
What they do know is that pangolins are fascinating animals. They can eat up to 70 million insects each year. They have long, sticky tongues much like an ant-eater that lets them gobble up insects.
But it is their scales – made of keratin (the same material as makes up human fingernails) – that give pangolins their unique appearance and protect them from predators. The conservationists say that not even lions can bite through the pangolin’s tough scales. However, it is that very same protection that is making them one of the least protected animals in the world from their primary predator – humans.
Zululand Conservation Trust explains, “They have been dubbed the world’s most trafficked mammal! A disheartening 2.7 million pangolins are poached from the wild every year. These amazing creatures possess no vocal cords and their only defense is to roll into a ball and lay still. This makes it easy for poachers to capture and conceal them.”
“The vulnerability of these animals is why the Zululand Conservation Trust has dedicated a large number of our conservation funds towards the protection, rehabilitation, and monitoring of these incredible animals.”
“While in the hands of poachers these pangolins deteriorate due to stress, dehydration, and lack of food. Thankfully there are incredible people fighting against the illegal trade. Thanks to rescue efforts at the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital they give every animal confiscated a second chance at life as well as the opportunity to live freely in the wild.”
The conservationists explain that, “When a pangolin arrives, the dedicated team nurses the injured and sick pangolins back to health. When they are strong enough, the rehabilitated pangolins are taken to a suitable reserve where the ‘soft release’ process begins. Here they are given the opportunity to be released back into the wild.”