Kenya Makes Efforts to Protect Pangolins from Extinction.


Pangolins are nocturnal, solitary animals that are threatened with extinction due to habitat loss caused by human activity and illegal trafficking. Their meat is regarded as a delicacy in some areas, and their scales are highly prized for use in traditional medicine.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified three pangolin species that are found in Kenya as Critically Endangered: the large ground pangolin, the Temminck’s pangolin, and the tree pangolin. Kenya is stepping up measures to protect its pangolin populations out of dread of what happened to the northern white rhino, of which there are now only two females.

To prevent the extinction of an elusive species pangolin, Kenyan scientists and conservationists are stepping up their efforts.

According to a research scientist at the National Museums of Kenya, Benard Agwanda, in order to understand how the scales lose their weight, we have been able to sacrifice one pangolin. As a result, if you are discovered at the airport carrying a suitcase or a bag of pangolin scales, we will be able to figure out how many pangolins you killed, removed the scales, and are attempting to sell or export. We can identify the species of pangolin if you are found with its scaled skin, and we are working to find out which population you must have taken this one from.

Expert in pangolin tracking Joshua Omele bemoans the problem of misplaced tracking tags: “Since then, we have lost a great deal of tags. This is one of the main obstacles. With only one tag, a pangolin can survive for up to one month before going extinct, which is a terrible loss.”

The Pangolin Project’s programs and habitat manager, Beryl Makori, clarifies the threats that electric fences put up by farmers pose to pangolins: “The Maasai community used to own parcels of land, but this area was recently demarcated and everyone was given their title deed. Everyone surrounded their plot of land with an electric fence. The only defence available to pangolins, who are unaware of this, when they are electrocuted is to curl into a ball. They act in such a way that they suffer constant electrocution until death.”

In order to lessen the threat to pangolins in this Nyakweri forest, Philemon Chebet, head warden at Kenya Wildlife Service Trans Mara Station, emphasizes the importance of raising community awareness before implementing law enforcement measures.

Conservationists are using creative strategies to address these issues, such as tracking pangolins using their scales and working with the local population to establish safe havens. Through the modification of electric fences and the implementation of the Habitat Lease Program, the non-governmental organization Pangolin Project is collaborating with landowners in the Nyakweri Forest to lessen conflicts between pangolins and farmers.

Notwithstanding these challenges, the Nyakweri Forest Conservation Trust was founded to protect the over 2,020 hectares of pangolin habitat. Kenya hopes to ensure that pangolins wander the African wilderness by achieving a balance between pangolin conservation and human needs through these joint efforts.

Kenya’s commitment to pangolin protection is a ray of hope for the future of these amazing animals as the globe marks globe Pangolin Day on February 17.

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