A Philippine Pangolin was Found Roaming in Ayala Alabang Village
It was minutes before midnight on August 16 when Mansi Vijayadithan’s dogs started barking in the lawn.
“Our three dogs sensed something was around. I checked the CCTVs but could not see any significant movement to go down and check,” Vijayadithan tells Esquire Philippines.
“My helper then called me and said there was a ‘strange lizard’ outside.”
Vijayadithan was shocked to find a scaly creature walking by her house’s gate. It was so scared it was crying.
Philippine Pangolin Found Roaming in Ayala Alabang Village
“It went and snuggled between the pole and gate and was so full of tears. We felt that it is a pet and has been separated, hence the plight. It was very new to me and i did not know what it was called,” said Vijayadithan.
At first, Vijayadithan and her helper thought it was a giant reptile. “My helper kept calling it something like a monster. But honestly, my focus that time was to get it to its home if it is someone’s pet.”
Through Facebook, Vijayadithan reached out to neighbors, who called on Anna Varona to help with the pangolin. Varona is an environmentalist who has had past experience with Philippine pangolins.
The Philippine Pangolin Curls Up in Anna's Arms
According to Varona, Philippine pangolins rarely survive outside their environment in Palawan. This is why she thinks this one was smuggled to be eaten or sold.
“They can’t be kept as pets because they die right away when they're not in their natural habitat,” Varona tells Esquire Philippines.
“The Pangolins were likely going to be eaten or sold.”
In the international black market, a kilogram of Philippine pangolin meat could cost up to P100,000. Vietnamese and Chinese eat pangolin meat for unproven medicinal benefits.
It was Varona who also alerted the authorities on the presence of the Philippine pangolin in the village.
The Philippine pangolin was immediately brought to the office of Barangay Ayala Alabang where it is awaiting repatriation to Palawan. Basic examinations performed by wildlife veterinarians showed it was a healthy pangolin.
“According to Glenn Maguad, the pangolin is 4.9 kilograms, uninjured, has no mucus in his nose, and had food in his tummy,” Varona tells Esquire Philippines. Maguad is the chief of the National Wildlife Rescue and Research Center (NWRRC).
The Wildlife Ambulance That Picked Up Pandi the Pangolin
The Pangolin was Named ‘Pandi’
Rescuers named the Philippine pangolin “Pandi” because it was found during the pandemic.
“Dr. Glenn asked me to name the animal, therefore 'Pandi'. He is our pangolin rescued during ECQ,” Varona says.
Not the First Time a Philippine Pangolin was Found in the Same Village
It is not the first time a Philippine pangolin was found roaming inside Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa.
In 2019, a Philippine pangolin was also found within the village. It was named Panggoy. Unfortunately, it died of stress and starvation before it could be flown back to Palawan. “There were delays and changes of schedule with the airlines, and he waited three weeks,” says Varona.
The same fate could be awaiting Pandi if no airline would fly him to Palawan. According to Varona, Cebu Pacific and Airswift are already coordinating with authorities on repatriating Pandi back to Palawan.
Pandi is Running Out of Food
Right now, Pandi is awaiting papers to be signed by the head of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) and the Bureau of Animal Industry for the quarantine form so he could be released.
"They're running out of termite mounds, and those aren't really the termites Pandi has to eat," says Varona.
“This is the second pangolin we retrieved from Ayala Alabang Village. Time is of the essence when pangolins are retrieved outside Palawan. They get stressed and their health declines,” says Varona.