Pangolin Videos

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

He wanted his freedom

Goodbye Balin. Thank you for
teaching me about your kind. I'll
always treasure your time with us.
It has taken me a few days to post this last report as I have been very sad and yet hopeful. On June 15, Balin got out of the cage and has not come back since.  I am sad because I would have wished to release him when he was bigger and in a less populated area. Happy he has gotten his freedom to be a wild creature for a bit. But now I will never know what happened to him. We are new too many people who will do it harm, either by poaching and selling to illegal wildlife traders for meat or by the locals eating it.

The pangolin is one of the most poached animals in Palawan. It has no teeth and curls up into a ball when scared. That is it's only defense. Even though it has very sharp claws it never uses them for defensive purposes, only to dig in hard mud and rotten trees and such.  When captured they are usually sent to China for exotic meat and they also grind up the scales for their traditional medical, though it's effectiveness is not proven and with today's pharmaceutical technology, I am sure there is something else like a plant to do the same without killing nature's natural pest control. They eat only primarily ants and termites and also grubs of beetles and other such insect.

These are the last shots I got of him. It was the dearest, sweetest creature I have ever had the privilege to rescue and care of. He was so gentle. I do pray he has not been captured and that he will remain free as long as possible. God speed dear Balin and may the angels of earth watch over you. I miss you so much and fear for you. You're human mommy for a bit.

The little pangolin weighed only 700 grams and was 29.9 centimeters from head to anus, and tail length was 22 cms. when last we took the measurements in June. Still just a little guy.
We will never know if Balin is alive and well or if he got injured. This makes me so sad as we had planned on releasing him when he grew larger and putting a tracker on him, then releasing him in a less populated area.
This is young bamboo, looking so much like a pangolin it would fake me out thinking it was Balin until I realized it wasn't moving.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Will to live

Still steadfast in his quest to find his food on his own. Even after having fallen down a hill into a creek and then off a bridge into the creek a second time. He just kept going for 2 1/2 hours on the property until he finally tired and crawled up his guardians leg. He was then brought back into the animal enclosure for the night where thankfully, he stayed.

For the last two nights Balin has gotten out of the animal enclosure (AE). Pre-dawn, about 5 AM, two mornings ago, Dave spotted it coming from the opposite direction of the enclosure... trundling home in it's awkward fashion. It had found a way out and had been foraging on it's own all night and was heading straight towards the enclosure.

Last night I went down to see it and it was gone by 10 PM. It had been taken out to forage earlier by his caregiver Rj and put back when he had his fill for awhile. I suspected it wasn't getting enough to eat since in the wild they probably would forage for awhile and rest then forage some more.  I decided to leave the latch open  in the enclosure so it could push the door open rather than have to crawl around to his bolt hole. When I got up this morning the door what open baby pangolin sized and he was in his sleeping basin. What a relief. I hardly slept a wink worrying about how he might go in the road and get run over!

It's growing and needs more food than previously. Plus, I had been told by a pangolin researcher that the babies his organization cared for grew faster.  It's very hard for us to harvest as many ants as it can eat in a day.  We lack the proper facilities to supply it with its own freezer harvested ants and termites for the rainy season which just hit tonight it seems. Quite the downpour.

The approximately 3 month old pangolin squeezed almost his entire body into the bamboo pole.

Today, we think we got the weak spot in the enclosure fixed, or so we think. I decided to go ahead and let it out when it was time to be fed as opposed to being carried to the spots to eat, I just followed where it wanted to go on it's own. It went straight for the bamboo groves where it has been taken for 2 months now. It immediately found a rotting bamboo pole that he had previously scavenged and it literally almost crawled all the way inside of it. The ants had rebuilt their nest inside the next chamber. I was so amazed that it was able to squeeze his spiny body inside. I thought we might have to help extricate him.  We didn't. He made his way out fine on his own. This creature amazes me.

I had serious doubts it could get out on it's own so I told Jhun to be prepared to help break open the pole.
The little scaly anteater that could! This little guy has such a will to live. He only weight 700 grams now after two months of staying with us. He is only, including tail, 47 centimeters long. Not including tail 25.5 centimeters in body length

Amazing where he can stick that pointed head of his.
This is the first night in 2 months it has not been carried out to eat and assisted in finding the food. Tonight for 2 1/2 hours it wandered on it's own and found it's own food. I noticed it had a lot more perseverance in sticking to one area now that he's had to work at finding his own food. When he was carried in between spot to spot he had a tendency to turn his nose up, as it were, if he didn't want an ant at that moment, or that particular kind of ant. I noticed tonight that he stayed a long time at the food he found on his own and didn't exhibit his picky behaviour at all.

When it had it's fill of the ants inside the first bamboo pole tonight, it wandered up the hill by the creek and then down a bit. We heard this splash,  it had fallen into the creek. It just righted itself, swam a bit and headed back up the hill again.  It crossed the bamboo bridge to get across the creek, leaned over and fell in again. Kersplash! No problem. It swam upstream a foot or so and began his ascent back up the opposite bank and another bamboo grove known by him to be particularly infested with several varieties of ants. He's just so determined to survive. If he survives us caring for him, he can survive anything as we have been flying by the seats of our pants.

He has no problem and frequently finds ant nests in the cut bamboo stumps.

He's done with this hole for the night.
Balin's alternate guardian. Instead of carrying the anteater to it's prey, tonight we let him wander off on his own with Jhun trailing behind him to watch and see where it went. When it was brought back to it's cage there was a big termite mound waiting for it. It snacked some more on it and then slept the rest of the night. It didn't attempt to get out the rest of the night.

Moving on to greener pastures as it were.

As I write this, I can hear Jhun pounding on a termite mound they found earlier, to break it open so that later, Balin can feed on it back inside the safety of the enclosure. Hopefully tonight with the food inside, it will not have to find a way outside to eat more. We can't afford a dedicated person to just follow it all night. Tonight Jhun said when it had it's fill, it found him and crawled up his leg to rest. He then took it back to the enclosure.

It's raining quite hard outside and of course I fear the rain will wash away his scent trail back home. I do hope I am wrong if he does manage to get out again.

Here is the video of him at dusk when he first left his enclosure to forage on his own without any help from his guardian.

Friday, June 7, 2013

A scaly survivor

Balin, the baby scally anteater is a sweet
survivor. It's just a few days past 2 months
this adorable pangolin has bee with us.
Click photo to enlarge
Each day when I get up, I anxiously await the moment our rescued survivor whom we have named Balin, wakes up. Each day is a challenge to find the ants and termites he eats. Each day a chance to interact with such a gentle creature. It doesn't even have teeth!

When we first got him, he would wake up in the mornings between 11am and noon. Several pangolin experts across the globe suggested removing any disturbances around him that would cause him to awaken so early since pangolins are nocturnal mammals by nature. We realized our dog Max was barking right next to Balin since that is where he was stationed to keep the chickens off of our outdoor sitting area next to the animal enclosure.

A sitting area made from bamboo on our property. I had it made so I would have somewhere comfortable to sit while I observe or interact with our various rescued wild life and a domesticated talking hill myna bird.
This is Balin, pausing for a photo op in between feeding on a harvested mud termite mound.
It will eat for up to two hours, foraging with the help of his two caregivers, Jhun Solis and his young 16 year old extended family member.

Balin is emerging from a black ant's nest after eating all the eggs and pupae it could find.

Since moving Max, the guard dog, the pangolin now wakes up between 4:30 PM and 5 PM, closer to it's natural nocturnal eating schedule.

This morning while having coffee, Dave noticed a creature walking outside. It was Balin strolling back to the animal enclosure from the opposite direction! It means it was out cavorting all night! We do live near a paved main road so my fear is that it will wander in the dark and be hit by a speeding motorcycle, the most common means of transportation in this Barangay- (Village). They are slow and awkward walkers.  Later when Balin wakes up to forage, we may let him find his own way out so we can see where he gets out!  It is a good thing to see that he knows how to find his way back to his current home, the animal enclosure. Had we had our wits about, we might have let it go back to the cage and watch where it gets in. At the crack of dawn, not so swift in thinking!

Just one of the many challenges of caring for an animal with an opposite body clock as us, it's caregivers. It's telling us it needs to get out more to eat then we can provide. We don't have an all nighter caretaker.

We plan on using the small pool intended for wading, as a habitat for the ants or termites. This way maybe it's prey will come to it at night so it won't try to escape. I do, however doubt it. Balin has an indomitable spirit and he doesn't seem to let anything waylay his needs. I believe now that he has found his freedom, he will want to do so more and more.

Balin, the little survivor. This baby pangolin has such a strong will to live. It's admirable.

When Balin first came he weighed about 500 to 520 grams. Two months later he weighs only about 640 to 700 grams, very slow growing. I'm sure he does need more food. In body length he came in at 20 centimeters with a tail length of 21  centimeters, it has now grown to 29.5 centimeters, not much of a leap with the tail growing to 22 centimeters from 21 cms.

It is unfortunate that it is one of the most poached creatures on the planet no matter where it exists. It's meat and scales are sold mostly to satisfy the Chinese  palate for exotic meats and the scales they pulverize (made of keratin) and sell as Chinese medicine. I can't say I have found any scientific data verifying it's medicinal efficacy.

The scaly anteater foraging in the bamboo groves. It feasts on several varieties of ant pupae. The mosquitoes in the grove then feast on me if I don't wear a mosquito repellant.

Here is a short video of Balin foraging on a rotting log infested with termites. The voice is his alternate care giver Jhun Solis.