On June 25, 2022, a story of resilience and hope began to unfold. Tuli, a female pangolin, was rescued from the clutches of the illegal trade. This was made possible through the dedicated efforts of DCPI (the Hawks) and the Benoni SAPS K9 unit, who orchestrated her retrieval. The rescue operation resulted in two arrests, marking a significant victory for wildlife protection. As Tuli was admitted to the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital, a heartwarming revelation came to light – Tuli was pregnant, carrying the promise of new life within her.
Weighing in at 7.7 kilograms, she displayed a natural nervousness around people, a response fully understandable given her journey. Due to her emotional state and the precious life she carried, a compassionate decision was made: to speed up her rehabilitation and offer her a chance at a brighter future. Tuli was sent to a reserve in Mpumalanga, where she would undergo a “soft release”, a crucial phase in her journey back to the wild.
On August 8, 2022, Tuli took her first steps into this new chapter. Equipped with telemetry tags sponsored by The Boucher Legacy, her movements and welfare could be closely monitored by the dedicated MPTA staff. This technology allowed us to keep tabs on her progress as she embarked on the challenging task of establishing a territory and finding a burrow for the impending birth of her precious pup. Tuli’s story is a testament to the power of collaboration and dedication.
The African Pangolin Working Group and The Boucher Legacy have joined forces for several years to conserve pangolins, focusing on equipping pangolins, confiscated from the illegal trade, with telemetry tags. Telemetry, an invaluable tool, enables non-invasive monitoring, reducing stress on these remarkable creatures while providing researchers with accurate data.
This data is a lifeline for a species facing the threat of extinction. It informs vital research, drives conservation efforts, advocates for policy change, and raises awareness about the irreplaceable value of these creatures in our rich natural heritage. Tuli’s journey is a beacon of hope, a reminder that through collective efforts, the survival of endangered mammals like pangolins is possible. Her story inspires us to continue our mission to protect the precious pangolin.