Prosper Ndlovu Senior Reporter
A CHIEF says he has a brilliant idea of what to do with a pangolin that was brought to him over the weekend: give it to the President!
Chief Sigola from Umzingwane says the rare animal – which is endangered in Zimbabwe – was brought to him on Sunday by soldiers from Imbizo Barracks who caught it during a training exercise.
“This is a royal creature that cannot be possessed by an ordinary person,” Chief Sigola told Chronicle.
“It’s very rare to catch this animal and we know the President would appreciate it.”
But a Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe official last night said wild animals should be left in the wild. “In any environment, an animal establishes its own habitat and for people to catch it and remove it from its habitat is not proper. Doing so disturbs the animal and people should always let it go on its way when they see it,” the official told Chronicle.
A pangolin, or inkakha in IsiNdebele, belongs to a group of anteaters and has scales all over its body. They are nocturnal animals that are active at night. During the day, they fold into a ball and sleep – which makes their public sighting extremely rare.
Pangolins have a powerful sense of smell and feed on insects such as termites. They tear open anthills and termite mounds with their powerful claws, but lack the ability to chew because they do not have teeth.
In many African societies, the animal is associated with good fortune and its “delicious” meat is considered in some parts as only fit for kings and rulers.
In Zimbabwe, the pangolin is part of a select group of animals which have been given the conservation status of “endangered species” because they face a high risk of extinction.
An ecstatic Chief Sigola said he had summoned his subjects in Esiphezini who resolved that the pangolin should be taken to the State House immediately.
“We have to give it to the President as a gift. The problem is that we don’t know the channel of taking this gift to our Head of State,” the chief told our news crew which visited his homestead.
Chief Sigola said he would be asking Parks officials for help with finding food for the pangolin, admitting he knows nothing about its diet.
Villagers encircled the little creature, which was kept in a cage and later on released. The animal appeared to try to escape only to be chased down by villagers as it crawled towards the bush. Others tried to lift it up and suffered incisions from its sharp scales.
Mrs Sarah Moyo (72) said: “I’m seeing the pangolin for the first time and I am so excited.”
A 70-year-old woman identified as MaNdebele added: “I last saw a pangolin when I was a teenager. This is a very important creature and we are happy to give it to the President.”