Breaking News
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

Saving the pangolin: One conservationist's lifetime mission

WorldJun 29, 2021 09:52PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
6/6 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man holds a pangolin at Save Vietnam's Wildlife rescue center in Cuc Phuong National Park, Ninh Binh province, Vietnam, June 24, 2021. REUTERS/Thanh Hue 2/6

By Minh Nguyen

CUC PHUONG, Vietnam (Reuters) - Vietnamese conservationist Nguyen Van Thai recalls in detail the moment when, as a boy, he watched his neighbours dig up and kill a female pangolin that had curled up into a scaly ball.

It was an experience that changed a life he now devotes to protecting the critically endangered mammal.

"With this defence mechanism, she would have been able to defend against all of her natural predators, but not from a killing by human hands," said Thai.

Raised near the lush forests of the Cuc Phuong National Park, the 39-year-old founded animal charity Save Vietnam's Wildlife in 2014. Since then it has rescued close to 1,600 pangolins.

A lucrative illegal trade in Asia in body parts alleged to be able to cure everything from cancer to male impotence makes pangolins one of the world's most trafficked mammals.

Pangolin parts can fetch up to $300 per kg, said Thai, whose group has set up task forces with rangers to patrol and find traps set by poachers.

"When we look at them, we think they are scary because they look like a dinosaur," said Thai.

"But in fact they are really nice and shy, incapable of attacking or posing a threat to humans. We are the reason for their declining numbers that could lead to extinction."

Vietnam is home to two pangolin species, both considered critically endangered. Hong Kong conservationist group WildAid estimates 100,000 pangolins are poached each year, and says all eight species worldwide are under threat.

Thai's manual on rescuing and caring for pangolins has been published in international academic journals and he was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize this year.

But that pales into insignificance beside the work he and his team do on the ground.

"The most wonderful moment is (when)... we witness the rescued pangolins... slowly walk into the forest because the forest is their true home," said Thai.

Saving the pangolin: One conservationist's lifetime mission

Related Articles

Sudan says coup thwarted, accuses Bashir loyalists
Sudan says coup thwarted, accuses Bashir loyalists By Reuters - Sep 21, 2021

By Ali Mirghani and Khalid Abdelaziz KHARTOUM (Reuters) -Sudanese authorities said they had foiled an attempted coup on Tuesday, accusing plotters loyal to ousted president Omar...

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email