AsianScientist (Dec. 24, 2012) – A new rehabilitation center was opened in Cambodia on Friday to help care for injured pangolins rescued from the country’s growing wildlife trade.
Opened with a Buddhist blessing and ceremony, the Pangolin Rehabilitation Center (PRC) was created in a partnership between the Cambodian Forestry Administration (FA) and Conservation International (CI).
In Cambodia, trafficked pangolins are typically kept alive as they fetch the best price on the market live. But as they are hunted using snares and hunting dogs, many confiscated pangolins have severe injuries that require professional medical treatment before they can be released back into the wild.
Located at the Phnom Tamao Zoological Park and Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC) in Takeo Province, the PRC is already caring for six injured pangolins that were rescued by FA rangers working in the Cardamom Mountains with support from local communities.
“The launch of this facility today gives rescued pangolins hope. Pangolins are often transported in very cruel ways by traffickers to avoid detection by authorities. Sometimes they are kept for days in plastic bags, without food or water, hidden in small spaces. It’s common for the animals to die in transit, or after rescue, due to these terrible practices,” said Annette Olsson, Scientific Technical Advisor of CI’s Greater Mekong program.
The little known pangolins, or “scaly ant-eaters,” are covered with protective, overlapping scales, and can quickly roll up into a tight ball when threatened. They are nocturnal and sleep in hollow trees or burrows emerging at night to forage for ants and termites, using their extraordinarily long and sticky tongue.
Half of the world’s species of pangolins are found in Asia where they have been hunted for their meat and scales that are used in tonics and traditional medicines. A live pangolin can fetch more than US$100, and the Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) – Cambodia’s only known pangolin species – has been hunted to near extinction.
The Sunda pangolin is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. It is also listed on CITES Appendix II, which bans all commercial trade in specimens removed from the wild. In Cambodia, the species is currently protected as a ‘Rare’ species under the 2002 Forestry Law.
Another pangolin rehab center, the Angkor Center for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) in Siem Reap Province, has been in place for several years.
Source: Conservation International.
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