Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

30 April 2012

Tanzania: Ngorongoro Villagers Excited By Pangolin

Arusha — RESIDENTS of Kakesio Ward in Ngorongoro were excited after finding an animal of good luck, pangolin, which is locally known as kakakuona.

The villagers thought they would use the rare animal to predict the Tanzanian ruler when the current term of President Jakaya Kikwete expires after 2015.

Use of animals to predict outcome of an important contest came to the fore during the 2010 World Cup, where Octopus Paul predicted match outcomes through to the final.

The Ngorongoro villagers thought they could use the pangolin to do for them what octopus Paul did for the book makers. But it was not to be.

As they were trying to find flags of leading political parties, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority intervened, demanding that the animal be released into the wild immediately.

"The residents of Kakesi were not supposed even to hold it for a minute after finding the Pangolin, though we appreciate that they reported its discovery to the management," said the NCAA Principal Tourism Officer, Mr Asantael Melita. The last time a pangolin was sighted anywhere within the Northern Zone circuit was in October 2009 in Mangola Village within Karatu District.

The 2009 Pangolin sighting caused chaos when local villagers tried to prevent rangers from taking the animal away arguing that the move would also 'take away' the luck that the pangolin, locally known as 'Kakakuona' could have 'brought' to their community. The local police had to intervene and briefly kept the Pangolin until NCAA people arrived to take it.

Earlier on, the in-charge of the conservation department of the NCAA, Mr Amiyo T. Amiyo, admitted that before the 2009 incident, no Pangolin had even been seen within the conservation area adding that such animals were also endangered species. "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 neighbourhood," the conservationist said. "They are very few, only come out to feed at night (nocturnal), add to their small plated bodies which make the pangolins rare sightings and that is why people always involve them with superstitious beliefs," he explained.

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