Africa

Pangolins are trafficked for their scales. This wildlife sanctuary is caring for them

Updated 4:45 AM ET, Thu July 28, 2022
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This is a pangolin -- the only mammal on Earth covered with scales, and also believed to be the most trafficked mammal in the world. Jo Munnik
Liberia, in West Africa, is home to three of the world's eight pangolin species. All eight are endangered, often hunted for their meat, or for their scales, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Jo Munnik
Rescued pangolins at Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary in Liberia have been given a second chance. Some of them are so young when they arrive that they need to be bottle fed. Jo Munnik
The sanctuary opened in 2017, providing a haven for confiscated, surrendered and orphaned wildlife. The team of dedicated caregivers is crucial to their survival and Mercy Doe (pictured), Juty Deh Jr. and Beyan Borbor look after the animals 24/7. Jo Munnik
In the past four years, Libassa says it has taken in almost 600 animals, including more than 70 pangolins -- many of which needed medical treatment. Each day the pangolins are taken for walks in the forest, where they are shown where to find food and encouraged to learn to feed themselves. Jo Munnik
Pangolins eat only ants and termites, and in Liberia they are known as "ants bears." Jo Munnik
The hope is to rehabilitate and ultimately release the pangolins back to the forest. Jo Munnik
Lead caregiver Juty Deh Jr. has looked after every pangolin that has arrived at the sanctuary and helps with every release. He says the moment of truth is when he opens the cage and the pangolin decides if it is ready to step into the wild. Jason Boswell
Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary also takes in other rescued animals, such as these Sooty mangabey monkeys. jo munnik
Returning monkeys to the wild is challenging, as they must be released in a social group and then monitored for a year. Jason Boswell
This rescued dwarf crocodile is blind and will live out his days at the sanctuary. Jo Munnik