- For the first time ever, a baby Chinese pangolin was born in a captive environment at the Save Vietnam’s Wildlife (SVW) facility near Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam.
- SVW released a video of the pangolin mother and her son this week leading up to World Pangolin Day on Feb. 15.
- Chinese pangolins are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List; pangolins are the world’s most trafficked animals, a trade driven by demand from East Asia for their flesh and scales.
- The surprise baby is a huge win for SVW, indicating that its captive environment is suitable for its pangolins, rescued from traffickers, to have a healthy pregnancy, birth, and home to rear their young — all important steps for a successful breeding program.
For the first time ever, a baby Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) was born in a captive environment at the Save Vietnam’s Wildlife (SVW) facility in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam.
The SVW team was surprised to notice the little scaly anteater strolling along behind his mother. The video, caught on camera in her enclosure, was released by SVW this week, leading up to World Pangolin Day on Feb. 15.
The mother pangolin was able to conceal her little secret for five months, SVW said, by spending her days deeply burrowed in the ground. She typically ventured out only after midnight, making it tough to observe her or her son’s behavior.
Capturing a photo of a pangolin in the wild has also proven challenging for SVW. Over the past five years, the organization has set up hundreds of camera traps in the forests of Vietnam and has yet to secure a single photo. This lack of data on ideal pangolin habitat creates a big challenge for SVW, which aims to one day release pangolins safely back into the wild.
Chinese pangolins are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. They and the seven other pangolin species are the most trafficked animals on Earth, with their flesh and scales highly prized in East Asia. All eight species are subject to a global commercial trade ban under CITES.
Pangolin stories were among Mongabay’s most popular stories in 2019. And projects like the Pango-Cam, which offers a unique pangolin’s-eye-view of life, as well as rescue facilities like SVW, have brought much-needed attention to these charismatic creatures.
All of the Chinese pangolins at the SVW center were rescued from illegal trafficking, including the mother pangolin in the video, which was transferred to SVW by the police in Quang Nam province in March 2019.
Amid the wash of recent stories about pangolins’ potential connection to the coronavirus and the massive seizure of scales from more than 50,000 pangolins being illegally trafficked, the news of the pangolin birth in Vietnam brings some positivity to a troubling theme.
This surprise baby represents a huge win for SVW, demonstrating that its captive environment is suitable for pangolins to have a healthy pregnancy, birth, and home in which to rear their young — all important steps for a successful breeding program.
“This shocking but happy news of the mother giving birth, and successfully raising her child in our sanctuary is a prerequisite and an initial success for future breeding and rehabilitation projects for this species,” SVW communications officer Dung Nguyen Thi told Mongabay.
“We hope that seeing Chinese pangolins free and happy in the wild will, someday, not be a dream.”
Liz Kimbrough is a staff writer for Mongabay. Find her on Twitter @lizkimbrough_
FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.