FEEL GOOD | Ally the poached pangolin gives birth in the wild after SA team's rescue efforts

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Ally the pangolin.
Ally the pangolin.
Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital
  • A poached pangolin has given birth after it was rescued and released earlier this year. 
  • The pangolin, named Ally, was rescued from poachers in April. 
  • This is the first record of a locally rescued pangolin giving birth in the wild.  

A female Temminck’s pangolin - that had been poached - gave birth in the wild after she was rescued and treated by a team of South African veterinarians and wildlife experts.

According to the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital (JWVH), the pangolin, named Ally, was retrieved out of the illegal trade by the South African Police Service's Endangered Species Unit on 25 April in the Alldays region in Limpopo.

Ally was transported to Polokwane, where veterinarian Dr Karin Lourens of the JWVH assisted with stabilising the pangolin and its initial examination.

During an abdominal ultrasound, it was discovered that Ally was pregnant.

According to Lourens, pangolins that had been poached were always compromised, some worse than others, and they required a period of veterinary treatment.

Prevent miscarriage

Once ensconced at a secure location in Johannesburg, Ally began to recover both psychologically and physically from her trauma. It was important for her to recover as quickly and gently as possible to prevent her from miscarrying her pup because of the high stress levels she had endured.

Ally also had pneumonia, but regular blood tests, CT scans and ultrasounds, along with careful nursing, ensured that she received the best care and her pup continued to develop normally.

A few weeks later, Ally was feeding well, her lungs had cleared and she had gained enough weight to be placed into her release phase. She was transported to a release site carefully selected by the African Pangolin Working Group (APWG) in the Limpopo Valley.

VHF (very high frequency) and satellite telemetry tags were attached to her scales to enable the post-release monitoring - this was critical to ensuring the animal's well-being and distribution back into the wild.

Ally eventually settled into an area with diverse ant species, found good burrows and relaxed into typical pangolin behaviour.

Born free

Some weeks later, the APWG's experienced release team noticed that Ally had kept to the same burrow for a few weeks and placed camera traps to continue monitoring her. This was an ideal way of monitoring the animal without causing any distress which could affect her pregnancy or unsettle Ally.

In one of these recordings, the team saw that Ally had given birth and her pup was in the burrow. This was the first-ever record of one of our successfully retrieved and rehabilitated Temminck's pangolins giving birth in the wild, following release.

"We are all thrilled to share this wonderful success story and wish our born-free pangolin pup a safe, long and wild life," the JWVH said. 

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