WATCH: Pandi the Pangolin Running Free in Secret Sanctuary
On August 16, a pangolin was found roaming in the posh subdivision of Ayala Alabang in Muntinlupa, Metro Manila. Surprised residents thought the scaly creature was a giant lizard. When wildlife rescuers X-rayed the creature’s stomach, they found traces of soil matter from its last meal.
Although that piece of information was somewhat reassuring, it was also disturbing: It meant the pangolin was very recently flown into Metro Manila from Palawan and was likely going to be butchered.
“Pangolins never last long outside their environment,” Anna Varona told Esquire Philippines. “They die because of starvation and stress.”
Luckily, one airline heeded the rescuers’ call to repatriate the pangolin, which was named Pandi after the pandemic. Pandi arrived in Palawan on August 21, and was immediately transported to the highly guarded secret pangolin sanctuary there.
Below is a video taken by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development when they released Pandi into the sanctuary.
Pandi the Pangolin Running Free in a Secret Sanctuary
Before releasing Pandi, rescuers gave him vitamins. The scaly creature instinctively ran toward a termite mound where he curled up and ate some food.
Like anteaters, pangolins are specialists who prey on ants and termites. They can consume 20,000 ants or termites every day.
The location of the sanctuary is kept a highly guarded secret. The area is also highly guarded to protect pangolins from poachers.
A kilogram of pangolin meat sells for up to P100,000 in the black market. Locals typically catch pangolins and sell them to foreigners who regard their meat and scales as prized delicacies with unproven medicinal benefits.
Punishment for Poachers
According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), poachers will pay more than what they earn in pangolin meat if they are caught.
For hunting and trading of wildlife, the penalty ranges from two to four years of imprisonment and a fine of P30,000 to P300,000 for hunting and P5,000 to P300,000 for the trading of wildlife.
For the mere transport of wildlife, the penalty is six months to one year imprisonment and P50,000 to P100,000 fine.