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Release of 24 criticially endangered sunda pangolins back to the wild

On 22nd November 2015, the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program (CPCP), a collaboration between Save Vietnam’s Wildlife (SVW) and Cuc Phuong National Park, released 24 rescued pangolins back into a protected area in the centre of Vietnam. 

Mr Thai Van Nguyen, Director of SVW said: “This is the second time we have released confiscated pangolins back to the wild. In June 2015, 35 Sunda pangolins were released back into the wild”.

Photo: Save Vietnam’s Wildlife

Thai added “The pangolin is one of the most trafficked animals in the world. The 2 species of pangolin in Vietnam are facing extinction. The release of these rescued pangolins helps increase the population of pangolins in the wild. To make sure that the pangolins will be safe in their new habitat, we cooperated with rangers to ensure law enforcement in the area. In August of this year, SVW conducted a rapid assessment of the current protected status of the forest, the habitat and resources available for released pangolins, and forest protection management in the area”.

At 4pm, after an almost 1000 km journey by bus, the group of over 20 officers from SVW/CPCP, and the rangers from the released area, arrived at the release location with the pangolins. The officer were divided into 4 groups to release the pangolins at 4 different areas. The pangolins arrived in good health, and were offered a meal of frozen ants before being released back to the forest. Each pangolin was released 300m apart. The release of the 24 pangolins finished at 9pm, November 22, 2015.


Photo: Save Vietnam’s Wildlife

Ms. Heidi Quine, SVW/CPCP’s Technical Advisor shared: “Thanks to the support of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Vietnam, all pangolins were health checked before their release, so we can be confident in their ability to readjust to their life in the wild. Seeing these animals return to the forest is the greatest reward imaginable for the team who has spent countless hours looking after these incredibly rare animals; returning wildlife to the wild is always our goal”.

11 of the released pangolins were from a cohort of 43 pangolins transferred from Yen Thuy distric Forest Protection Department (FPD), Hoa Binh province in May 2015. The remaining 13 individuals were handed over by Ninh Binh FPD in June, July and September 2015. The pangolins arrived at SVW/CPCP after being trafficked in nylon bags - unable to move and without access to food or water after an unknown length of time. In a worrying trend, several of the animals were found to have been force-fed with a slurry comprising corn powder and limestone powder. After 5 months of rehabilitation at the centre, the pangolins were deemed ready to retrun to the wild. In a further boon to the species, one of the pangolins being released into the wild was born at SVW/CPCP after his mother arrived from the wildlife trade pregnant.

Photo: Peter Yuen

Mr. Tran Quang Phuong, CPCP manager said: “Currently, we are still taking care of many rescued pangolins from both Thanh Hoa province. However we are being denied permission to release these animals as they have been identified as criminal evidence. We hope that the authorities will reach a solution for this issue and change the law of criminal evidence management, so that our conservation work runs smoothly”.

* Note:
Save Vietnam’s Wildlife does not mention the specific release location in this media release to ensure safety from poachers for the animals after release. Please do not mention the release location in your article.