The Rescue of an African Pangolin

Like the rhino, an uncomfortable parallel can be drawn with this most elusive creature. The pangolin is being poached due to its perceived medicinal properties. Incalculable damage is being done to the pangolin population due to the mistaken belief that their keratin scales possess rejuvenating properties. Due to its nocturnal nature, many people – despite having been on many safaris – have never experienced the pleasure of seeing one in the wild.

This is just one of numerous stories relating to the rescue of these most unique looking creatures.

Main picture: Note the posture of the Pangolin whilst walking. It holds the front paws up in the air as it is unable to walk using them

Roxy was caught to be sold on the black market. However, a shop owner felt sorry for her and purchased her. He then contacted a local wildlife organization which in turn notified the Rare & Endangered Species Trust (REST).

The pangolin displays its lack of scales on its underside. When threatened, this mammal curls up into a ball to exposure only its scales on the outside

The pangolin displays its lack of scales on its underside. When threatened, this mammal curls up into a ball to only exposure its scales on the outside

Surprisingly this rescued Cape Pangolin took a liking to Maria Diekman, a founder and director of REST,  and an unexpected and inexplicable bond that developed was such that Maria was allowed to join this most whacky and enigmatic creature in her nocturnal foraging.


As the REST team prepared Roxy for her release, Maria went in for a final check and Roxy crawled slowly towards her and sat in her lap. Maria saw what appeared to be a snake coiled up around Roxy’s stomach and realized that Roxy had given birth and the baby was still attached by its umbilical cord.

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Maria had just witnessed the first captive birth of a Cape Pangolin in history.

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Mother and baby pangolin

Then, unexpectedly, one night, Roxy vanished, leaving behind her nameless baby to be reared by the REST team.
The team speculates that she may have come into heat and the call of the wild may have overcome her maternal instincts.

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It is assumed that wild pangolins normally leave their young at about this time, so they believe what she did was natural.

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REST will continue to care for and subsequently release the baby pangolin back into the wild.

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