16 November 2009

Tanzania: Pandemonium as Pangolin is Sighted at Mang'ola

Arusha — It was all excitement in Mangola Village, Karatu District when local residents discovered the rare Pangolin an animal believed to be able to predict the future, or something.

But the incident almost caused chaos when hundreds of people tried to prevent conservationists from taking away the nocturnal creature saying the move would also 'take away' the luck that the pangolin, locally known as 'Kakakuona' had 'brought' to their community.

Mang'ola village is famous for its bumper onion and other vegetable harvests. The residents say soon after the animal appeared in the vicinity, heavy rains poured, signaling 'blessings!'

The area that the Pangolin was discovered happens to be bordering the reserved forest under the care of Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority. NCAA officials had sent their rangers down to the village in order to take the animal back to the park.

The head of NCAA Conservation Services Department Mr Amiyo T. Amiyo said some good Samaritans informed the department regarding the sighting of the Pangolin in the neighborhood and they went there hither to collect the mammal.

"I have been a conservationist with the NCAA for almost twenty years now but throughout this period I have never encountered a pangolin, I think this is the first such animal to be seen in the neighborhood," he said. According to Mr Amiyo Pangolins are endangered species.

"They are few, only feed at night (nocturnal) add to their small bodies make the pangolins rare sightings and that is why people always involve them with superstitious beliefs," he explained.

"They mostly live in caves and eat ants and here at NCAA we intend to release the newly found pangolin into similar surroundings we can't keep it for long because we don't have a cage," he added.

As for the superstitious beliefs the NCAA communications officer Mr Adam Akyoo said the villagers placed the usual stuff, maize flour, water and farming tools before the pangolin.

"The locals say the Pangolin chose maize flour (or at least it moved near where the flour was placed) and people cheered that the animal had predicted bumper harvest and abundance food production," he said. And the fact that it rained shortly after, their belief couldn't have been more reinforced.

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