Tranquil, solitary and nocturnal, the pangolin has number of natural enemies, but researchers think it is the most trafficked mammal in the environment. The tricky scales masking its body are sought after for use in Chinese drugs, in the erroneous perception that they have therapeutic properties.
The animal has also been of desire to researchers throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Associated viruses have been discovered in trafficked pangolins, even though there is ongoing uncertainty around early theories that pangolins were being concerned in the transmission of the virus from animals to individuals.
BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding followed South African police as they seized a pangolin from suspected smugglers, and met vets as they experimented with to conserve the animal’s daily life.