What is a pangolin and why should we care?

A look at the world’s most trafficked mammal and what they mean to our environment

Celebrating World Pangolin Day

In the lead-up to World Pangolin Day on 20 February, we have an expert panel of ecologists, conservationists, wildlife experts and rehabilitation specialists lined up for a two-part live discussion on all things pangolin.

Join our first live event on 11 February 2021 at 16h00 CAT as we connect with a range of experts from across Africa and Asia to discuss the significant threats facing pangolin across the globe. Find out more about this elusive creature, the stresses that it faces and why protecting it is important for the future of our planet.

  • Watch and ask questions on YouTube or Facebook.
  • To join on YouTube: Click on the image below, and ask your question in the chat box on the right-hand side.


There is an urgent need to reset the delicate balance between humans and nature. Maybe saving the pangolin represents a first step towards restoring that balance.

Bruce Young
Director, Producer & Narrator, Eye of the Pangolin

Meet our panel of experts

Little-known and elusive, what is it about these nocturnal and secretive animals that has resulted in the pangolin being the world’s most trafficked mammal? Faced with a growing demand for their scales in Asia, as well as the multiple threats of habitat loss, the bush meat trade and their traditional use in African tribal dress and medicine, the world’s pangolin are in decline.

Our panel of experts bring their insights, learnings and experiences to the table to highlight the dangers facing the pangolin, as well as to discuss why and how they should be protected.

HOST: Klara Glowczewska

Executive Travel Editor, Town & Country USA

Klara Glowczewska has been part of the editorial teams of publications that range from The New Yorker and Vanity Fair to Condé Nast Traveler and, most recently, Town & Country.

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She has a strong track record commissioning, editing, and packaging a broad range of editorial content, from the environment to politics, technology, conservation, culture, current events, as well as consumer journalism, profiles, personal narratives, short reviews, info-graphics, and literary essays. Klara is deeply versed in travel, the travel industry, and the tastes of sophisticated travel consumers.

A writer, reporter and teacher of non-fiction writing, Klara also held a number of highly regarded editorial positions in book publishing and journalism.

Born in Poland, and raised in North Carolina, Egypt, and Connecticut, Klara speaks three languages. She holds a BA degree in English, Magna Cum Laude, from Yale College.

Les Carlisle

&Beyond Group Conservation Manager

Are lesser known species such as the pangolin getting their fair share of conservation attention? What is the role of the species in preserving biodiversity and why is their conservation essential?

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Les has been involved in professional game capture and wildlife management for all of his working life and has successfully translocated more than 40 000 animals. Part of the &Beyond team for almost 30 years, Les provides conservation management across the group, advising on conservation projects on three continents.

A committed proponent of the view that providing benefits to local communities is one of the essential components of conservation, Les is also a trustee of &Beyond’s community development partner, Africa Foundation. He is also Project Manager of Rhinos Without Borders, a travel industry initiative aimed at creating alternative breeding populations of rhino.

Raymond Jansen

Chairman African Pangolin Working Group (APWG)

How have pangolins evolved and what makes them unique? What are some of the threats this endangered species faces in Africa? Professor Raymond Jansen is the Chairman of the APWG…

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Professor Raymond Jansen is the Chairman of the APWG… and a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Pangolin Specialist Group.

He is a Full Professor in the Department of Environmental, Water and Earth Sciences in the Faculty of Science at the Tshwane University of Technology. He holds a PhD in Zoology from the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology based at the University of Cape Town.

Ray is the founder and Chairman of the African Pangolin Working Group established in 2011. He has been undertaking research on African pangolins since 2009; he has published 13 scientific journal articles and four book chapters on African pangolin ecology, genetics, evolutionary history, illegal trade and cultural use.

He supervises post-graduate students working on African pangolin ecology, their use in traditional medicine and their prevalence in the bushmeat markets of West and southern Africa.

Nicci Wright

Wildlife rehabilitation specialist

What is the African Pangolin Working Group?
What role do they, and the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital, play in the conservation of pangolin in South Africa?

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Nicci Wright is an independent wildlife rehabilitation specialist with over 20 years practical experience. She is a founder and director of the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital, which specializes in the treatment and rehabilitation of indigenous wildlife. She has worked with over 350 different species of indigenous birds, mammals and reptiles and her expertise lies in a range of areas including rehabilitation, husbandry, wildlife behaviour and release techniques.

Nicci is the Executive Director of the African Pangolin Working Group and is involved with the husbandry and rehabilitation of most of South Africa’s confiscated Temminck’s ground pangolins.

Nicci has published on the rescue, rehabilitation and release of pangolins, and is a member of the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group as well as Wildlife Project Manager for Humane Society International (HSI)-Africa..

Lisa Hywood

Founder & CEO Tikki Hywood Foundation

What has led to conservationists in Africa becoming specialists in pangolin rehabilitation and what are some of the pangolin conservation projects running on the continent?

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Lisa Hywood is CEO and founder of the Tikki Hywood Foundation, established in Zimbabwe in 1994 in memory of her late father. The Foundation addresses gaps in conservation left by the focus on larger and more charismatic wildlife. Between 2012 and 2020, the Foundation has rescued over 200 ground pangolins, making them a recognized authority in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of African pangolin species.

Lisa has established satellite pangolin programs and points of contact for remote pangolin rescues and releases, as well as advised and guided pangolin rescues in a number of African countries.

Bruce Young

Director, Producer & Narrator, Eye of the Pangolin

What are the challenges and the threats faced by pangolin conservationists around Africa and how do they go about facing them? Bruce Young is a director, writer and producer…

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He worked as an actor in South Africa and the USA before moving into the production end of the film business in Los Angeles. He then returned to SA, where he helped found AFDA, now the country’s premier film school. He has also established himself as a local screenwriter and has written scripts for a broad range of film genres and styles, including feature films, television dramas, sitcoms and natural history documentaries.

His 2015 directorial debut, Blood Lion, exposes the canned lion hunting industry in South Africa. His 2019 documentary, Eye Of The Pangolin, was made to raise awareness about the most trafficked mammal on the planet.

Priyan Perera

Dept of Forestry University of Sri Jayewardenepura (Sri Lanka) & IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group

What are the main threats to the survival of pangolins in Sri Lanka? Why is it crucial for humans and pangolins to learn to live together? Dr Priyan Perera is a senior lecturer…

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Dr Priyan Perera is a senior lecturer at the Department of Forestry and Environmental Science at Sri Lanka’s University of Sri Jayewardenepura. He received his PhD and Masters from Louisiana State University in the US and has over 15 years of experience in research, teaching, extension, and outreach in the fields of environmental management and forestry.

Priyan carries out ongoing research in to sustainable tourism, wildlife tourism in protected areas, recreation ecology, wildlife ecology and environmental sustainability.

In 2014 he helped establish a Pangolin Conservation Project funded by Sri Lanka’s Biodiversity Secretariat. The focus of the project is to protect pangolins from poaching and collect data on the population, behavior and ecology of Indian pangolins in Yagirala Forest Reserve.

* Please note, where our experts are pictured handling pangolins, this is done where it is part of a strict rehabilitation or monitoring process and is undertaken in the most sensitive manner possible.

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