Up Close with One of God’s Creatures

One of the things I love about living in Africa is how we frequently come across things that you just don’t see in the United States. Sometimes it is as simple as being cut off by a herd of goats while jogging, or seeing a man somehow manage to dangle multiple live chickens from the handlebars of his motorcycle while working the clutch and throttle.

Photo by Grady Nace.

Photo by Grady Nace.

Our first week ever in Mozambique a man approached us with something for sale in a sack. When we looked in the sack, we discovered a live animal, a pangolin, curled up in a ball. It looked like an armadillo on steroids. Fast forward to the present and we have had two experiences with pangolins in the last month. A small Husky airplane has flown in from Niassa, a wildlife reserve in the northwest of Mozambique, with pangolins that had been confiscated from people who were trying to sell them. The pilot asked if he could park his plane in our hangar to keep it cool so the conditions would be better for transporting the animal back to the Reserve. Once the pangolin is deemed healthy, it’s released back into the wild.

We have since learned that pangolins are extremely endangered and among the most highly trafficked and highly protected animals in the world. Here in Mozambique, pangolins are often trafficked to Asia where their scales are thought to have medicinal value, much like the horns of rhinos. I happened to be at the hangar when they were loading the pangolin into the plane to make its journey to Niassa and was able to get a closer look. It was nice to see one of God’s unique creatures finding its way back into the wild.

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