The pangolin. An animal so ancient looking it harks back to a mythical era. A gentle, nocturnal, ant-eating creature and yet believed to be the most widely trafficked animal in the world. Illegal trade is fueled by demand for their scales, whom some mistakenly feel have medicinal properties, and is supplied by poachers who wrench pangolins from their wild homes.
Thankfully there are many good people doing all they can to protect pangolins from extinction. This threat is real and very serious. Here in Zambia, through Wildlife Crime Prevention’s (WCP), which supports the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DPNW) Project the Pangolin Project, many Pangolins have been seized back from poachers. Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ), has been fortunate enough to then release a number of rescued pangolins into the Lower Zambezi National Park.
Nikita Lyengar from CLZ shares tales of the pangolin and the joy they've brought to the team who were lucky enough to briefly know them:
"Some arriving in better shape than others after being handled by poachers, and many becoming frequent fliers on Royal Zambezi Lodge flights to facilitate quicker release times, all pangolins that have come through have definitely made their mark on our hearts!
From the hungry little one who had ants all over his face as he couldn’t eat them quickly enough to the one that climbed half way up a tree and just clung on. The one that was so massive we said it was the biggest one we’ve ever seen until the next one came and we were sure this one was bigger! From the pangolins that came in pairs, to the energetic ones that tried to climb out of their boxes and the very timid ones that would not uncurl - every single release has been unforgettable.
Coming in close contact with these pangolins has uncovered that they have character and personalities and we are very lucky to be able to see them return to their wild homes!"
To watch Eye of the Pangolin, created by Johan Vermeulen and Bruce Young is emotional. As with all wildlife issues there is deep sadness and frustration to see the reality of the Pangolin’s situation. And yet there are so many stunning moments as we get to know these wonderful animals. And as always, whilst we can talk of the poachers we can also focus on those individuals who sacrifice so much to protect these wonderful animals.
We were inspired to create our Pangolin design with proceeds being donated back to the Pangolin Crisis Fund as a small contribution to their amazing efforts. Our designs are extremely labour intensive as you can see from Andrew MacDonald’s wonderful video. Some pieces take 6 hours to create! But what better way to celebrate the magic of the Pangolin than to painstakingly reflect their extraordinary beauty by transforming poachers’ snare wire into a tool to help protect them.
With each Pangolin design sold $5 is donated back to the Pangolin Crisis Fund as well as donations to anti snare patrols in Zambia.
The Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DPNW) is the government wing responsible for the significant task of managing Zambia’s vast protected areas. Wildlife Crime Prevention’s (WCP) work together with DNPW on a daily basis in order to strengthen conservation in Zambia by reducing the illegal wildlife trade across Zambia and neighboring countries throughout the region.
Zambia is a vital range state for many elephant populations, a stronghold for significant carnivore populations as well as a number of other rare and endangered species. Zambia is located at the centre of several Southern African transit networks. Illegal wildlife products, including those from neighbouring countries, are transported from and through Zambia destined for a variety of transit routes and markets, often ultimately ending up in Asia.
Protect the Pangolins is the only Pangolin Protection, Rehabilitation and Release Programme in Zambia. The programme is a unique collaboration between the Zambian Department of National Parks and Wildlife, the UNZA School of Veterinary Medicine and WCP | Wildlife Crime Prevention.
Inspired by these beautiful creatures, the Pangolin design mimics the overlay of each pangolin scale. One on top of each other. Created with repurposed snare wire, that is collected by the DNPW, each piece takes an average of 2 hours to create by hand (the bracelet taking nearly 3 hours) and is so physical that we work to a one day on, one day off rule when making it. Every sale donates to both anti snare patrols and the Pangolin Crisis Fund. Wearing it connects you with very special like-minded souls and our workshop and team in the South Luangwa National Park.