Five years to this day I was on drive with a lovely family from the United States… We had had incredible sightings but their last night was one I will never forget.
On our way back to the lodge, I saw a weird looking little thing walking across the road. Having no idea what it was, I approached slowly and to my surprise I realised that we’d come across a young pangolin crossing the road. Being young (24 years old) at the time, I had only heard of these little animals through photos and videos.
Overly excited, my guests and I got out of the car and stood a good 10 metres away from this dinosaur-looking animal. Till this day, I still remember all the overwhelming emotions that I went through: ecstatic, happy, shocked, sad and teary-eyed. This was the moment I that realised I had found my favorite animal.
Being my first time seeing this animal, I had no idea what to tell my guests! I remember telling them simply that this was very rare…
The next five years have been a blessing when it comes to pangolin sightings.
The Kapama Private Game Reserve has taken drastic measures with high-tech security to keep not only our rhinos but also pangolins as safe as possible from poachers. This has helped us greatly with monitoring the pangolins and being able to study them.
When a pangolin is spotted by someone in the Reserve, members in our team will go out to find it and set up an ID kit. What we look for are any chips or cracks in any of the pangolin’s scales. In this way, we can ID this particular individual in any future sightings.
In addition to this, we log the location where the animal was spotted and we weigh the individual. Where possible, we try to sex the animal as well. All of this information gets uploaded onto our database and over a span of a few years, we can start seeing territories being formed by these elusive creatures. This information is kept in-house only, as these amazing little animals are sadly listed as critically endangered and are often referred to as the most illegally trafficked mammal in the world, with over hundred thousand getting poached on a yearly basis.
I’m so grateful to be able to get to know the pangolin more and more with each sighting and to contribute to their conservation in a small way, while sharing their wonders and stories with our guests whenever possible.
Read more about pangolin this World Pangolin Day: