For the love of pangolins, student studies this rare mammal

A few weeks ago, wildlife conservationists around the globe commemorated World Pangolin Day, a day set aside to raise awareness about these unique mammals. Back at NUST, Kelsey Prediger, a Masters in Natural Resource Management student also plays her part in contibuting to the body of knowledge about these mammals. She works hand in hand with Prof Morgan Hauptfleisch, an Associate Professor in the department of Natural Resources.

As part of the university’s curriculum, Prediger, along with other students conducted field work at a lodge populated with pangolins. For the purposes of protecting the endangered species, the students did not disclose the name of the lodge.

Their study identified that though these mammals are harmless many see them as a threat.

“People kill them out of fear of not knowing what they are. Also, there are beliefs that pangolins possess spiritual or medicinal value. These ideas come from traditional beliefs that are not backed by any factual studies,” Prediger said.

Dr Hauptfleisch added that this is rather unfortunate, and explained that “pangolins provide valuable ecosystem services because they eat a large number of ants and termites, therefore they play a vital role.” Of the eight different species of these mammals, Namibia and Southern Africa as a whole, are home to the Temminck’s ground pangoling and smutsia temminckii species. They are found in areas which receive over 250mm of rainfall, a crucial element for their survival.

Dr Hauptfleisch applauds the postgraduate student for collecting valuable information to help understand the species better, for through knowledge, there is a better understanding of the value of conserving pangolins.

NUST Nature Conservation students are playing their part in spreading the word through awareness campaigns, coordinated
by the Namibian Chamber of Environment, and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

Currently, the parties are running an incentive-based campaign to get informants to step forward and report suspicious activity, in exchange for a reward. The compensation is however, only given if the tip-off leads to an arrest.

Date: 
Friday, March 6, 2020
for Month: 
March, 2020

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