walks on two legs
has the eye of a whale,
the ears of a baby Gorilla,
the feet of an elephant,
looks like an artichoke,
and curls up like a hedgehog for protection? Why it’s a PANGOLIN!
A unique group of mammals of which there are only eight species worldwide, pangolins are now taking centre stage alongside the more charismatic species such as rhino and elephant as victims of the rampant illegal wildlife trade. They are officially recognized as the most traded mammal in Asia and the shocking reality is that we have no idea how many of these shy animals are left globally.
Pangolins are highly specialized feeders – they have no teeth and they ONLY eat ants and termites! They have the longest tongue to body ratio of all other mammals which can be as much as 60% of total body length. Most people don’t realise that they are mammals because they are covered in scales. This part of the pangolin is highly prized like rhino horn and it is in fact made of the same stuff as rhino horn and human fingernails – keratin.
What makes the pangolin important in Zimbabwe?
In Africa, the belief in the supernatural world is still prevalent, and although many of the myths and legends have been lost over time some still remain. For example, many Shona people today will agree that a pangolin, if seen, must be brought to a chief or a person of high standing. This is considered a respectful gesture that will bring a multitude of blessings to the community. But very few people today understand the extent of that action and why it supposedly should be done.
What is the Tikki Hywood Trust?
The Tikki Hywood Trust is a private voluntary wildlife conservation organization that has undertaken to protect, rehabilitate and conserve these very special animals. Together with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, we have developed a protocol whereby live pangolins confiscated from illegal traders are given the opportunity to be rescued and rehabilitated and returned back to a safe and natural environment.
Lisa Hywood founded the Tikki Hywood Trust in 1994 as an NGO in memory of her father, the late Tikki Hywood. Tikki was a man who always looked to the future with optimism. His generous and thoughtful nature combined with a love of the wild and an ability to achieve results is the inspiration behind the basic tenets of the Trust. Above all, he was a committed Zimbabwean who put the national interest ahead of personal and business considerations. This rarity of character and integrity are and will remain the driving force behind the Tikki Hywood Trust.
“The pangolin is a deeply respected animal in Zimbabwean culture and so when I decided to establish the Trust in my father’s name I wanted to honour him. By using the pangolin as a symbol, I paid tribute to my father and also set the Tikki Hywood Trust apart from other wildlife Non-Governmental Organizations by recognizing a lesser known and more endangered species. Today the Trust’s pangolin is a recognizable logo and we are Africa’s leaders in the conservation and preservation of this enigmatic species.” Lisa Hywood.
How can you help?
If you see a pangolin in a National Park – lucky you! Please do not disturb or pick up the animal to take pictures. But please DO report your sighting to Tikki Hywood Trust to help us build a population census. Visit www.tikkihywoodtrust.org or Facebook Tikki Hywood Trust
If you see someone with a pangolin please report it immediately to Zimbabwe National Parks Authority or to the Tikki Hywood Trust. Hot lines are: 0772 114 600 or 0712 217 441 or 0735 045 134.