Meet the 'Pangolin Men' Saving the World's Most Trafficked Mammal
At the Tikki Hywood Trust in Harare, Zimbabwe, a group of charity workers known as the "Pangolin Men" dedicate their lives to saving a prehistoric-looking animal from an increasing threat of extinction.
The pangolin is the only mammal in the world with scales. Sadly, it's this unique feature that gives the pangolin the unfortunate title of the world's most trafficked mammal, with more than a million illegally hunted and killed in just the last decade. All eight species in Africa and Asia are hunted for their scales, meat and use in traditional Asian medicine.
But conservationists, like the team at the Tikki Hywood Trust, are working hard to reverse this horrific trend. As seen in the video above from Barcroft Animals, each of the Pangolin Men at the trust are assigned a pangolin and spend the whole day rehabilitating and walking with them so they can learn to forage naturally.
The clip also provides a rare glimpse of the gentle and playful creatures interacting with the workers.
"Here in Zimbabwe, we are proud to save the pangolins," says one of the minders in the clip. "Everyday with my friends we protect the animal. We walk them, we feed them, we protect them like our children."
Photographer Adrian Steirn, who is featured in the video, was granted access to the charity's work. There, he took stunning portraits of the Pangolin Men to help bring attention to the plight of this endangered animal that many people may have never heard of.
"I think if people learn what a pangolin is from these images, then we are moving in the right direction," as Steirn says in the clip. "I hope that people learn to care a little bit more, not just about pangolins, but about our planet."