A pangolin’s journey from rescue to release

In safe hands: retrieved from illegal wildlife traders and given a second chance

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 second live event on 18 February 2021 at 16h00 CAT as we connect with four conservationists who have provided the safe and expert hands needed to take a pangolin from rescue to release. This is your opportunity to walk in their footsteps and share in the challenges and joys of this journey.

  • 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.

Image by Damen Pheiffer

Working with these charismatic, gentle, peaceful and silent creatures is such an honour and a privilege – a truly humbling experience I cherish.

Professor Ray Jansen
Founder & Chairman African Pangolin Working Group (APWG)

Meet our panel of experts

What does it take to rescue pangolin from the underworld of the illegal wildlife trade, to stabilise and rehabilitate them and then to successfully release them back into the wild?

Come behind the scenes with our conservationists and share in their learnings and unforgettable moments.

Witness a reintroduction project that is key to bringing hope to the world’s most trafficked mammal.

HOST: Les Carlisle

&Beyond Group Conservation Manager

Les has been involved in professional game capture and wildlife management all 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…

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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

Founder & Chairman African Pangolin Working Group (APWG)

Where do the Pangolin Reintroduction Project’s animals come from?
Can you tell us about some of these undercover operations?
Where do the pangolins go after you’ve rescued them?

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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 condition are the pangolins in on arrival?
What is involved in the rehabilitation of pangolins?
Once you’re satisfied that they’re ready for release, what is the next step?

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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 is a member of the IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group as well as Wildlife Project Manager for Humane Society International (HSI)-Africa.

Charli de Vos

Phinda Ecological Monitor

What happens after the pangolin is released?
What has been your most unforgettable pangolin moment?
What have been the big wins of this project so far?

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Charli’s passion for the African bush started young with annual family safari holidays to wild reserves within Southern Africa, and ultimately led her to pursue a career in wildlife research and conservation.

Her three-year BSc Degree in Biodiversity and Ecology was followed by an honours degree and then her Masters in Conservation Ecology. In 2018, she joined the &Beyond Phinda Conservation Team as one of their Ecological Monitors and has been with the company ever since.

Charli has been intimately connected with the Pangolin Reintroduction Project at Phinda since the outset in June 2019, when her responsibilities were extended to leading this project. Charli’s passion for conservation in general, and pangolins in particular is both inspirational and contagious.

Leno Sierra

APWG Zululand Field Manager

What is your role as Zululand Field Manager?
What does a soft-release process involve?
What intriguing pangolin behaviour have you observed?

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Leno Sierra is a passionate Mexican Conservationist that came to South Africa for the first time as a volunteer in 2011 and now holds a
Level 1 FGASA (Field guiding) qualification. From her initial involvement in rhino rehabilitation, she joined the African Pangolin
Working Group as Zululand Field Manager for their pangolin reintroduction programme in this region.

In the last year, she has been part of the team that rehabilitated, released and monitored the first nine Temminck´s ground pangolins
that were reintroduced to an area where they had been locally exctinct for decades.

Working everyday in the field, she has been able capture data and research samples, not to mention observe and register previously unrecorded
behaviour that is currently being studied and analysed.

* 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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