39 pangolins rescued from poachers in Zim
05 September 2016, 23:00
Harare - At least 39 pangolins have been rescued alive from poachers in Zimbabwe so far this year as the courts act tough on those caught in custody of this shy sticky-tongued mammal that is among the most trafficked animals in the world.
Releasing its most recent tally this week, the Tikki Hywood Trust said that at least 81 pangolin traffickers had been caught in the southern African country since the beginning of the year. The Trust is well known for its work caring for and rehabilitating scaly anteaters rescued from poachers in Zimbabwe, with conservationists outside the country regularly turning to the group for advice.
"Reality is this species is under threat," the Trust said in an update to Facebook.
Traded for their meat and scales, these beautiful prehistoric mammals used to be considered fit for royals in Zimbabwe and were often handed over to President Robert Mugabe. That practice has changed - but poachers continue to hunt out pangolins.
Just four days ago, the privately-owned Newsday reported that two men were arrested on August 28 after being found in possession of two pangolins they'd captured - or at least were keeping in the hope of selling - in Nyanga in mountainous eastern Zimbabwe.
The duo has already appeared in court and been denied bail. Pangolins are notoriously difficult to keep in captivity and are often found to have suffered huge stresses after being kept by poachers.
Magistrates in Zimbabwe regularly hand down nine-year jail sentences to those convicted of dealing in pangolins. This is exactly what happened to a 27-year-old man from Gokwe in central Zimbabwe mid-last month, according to a separate report in Newsday.
The Worldwide Fund for Nature says that between 2011 and 2013, an estimated 116 990-233 980 pangolins were killed worldwide. That means that every pangolin recovered alive is precious.