Marizka Coetzer
2 minute read
26 May 2021
8:17 pm

Midrand pangolin poaching case delayed

Marizka Coetzer

The vet says Olivia, underweight when rescued, is responding well to medical treatment and feeding.

Picture for illustrative purposes: Neil McCartney

Olivia the pangolin’s alleged poachers will have to remain behind bars until June after their case was postponed.

The pangolin pulled through the weekend and was in a stable condition after being rescued from three alleged poachers at a Shell garage on the N1 road in Midrand last Friday.

The suspects were arrested during a sting operation led by Professor Ray Jansen, founder of the African Pangolin Working Group, along with the SA Police Service’s (Saps) stock theft and endangered species unit, Saps K9 Bronkhorstspruit, Saps crime intelligence, Gauteng department of agriculture and rural development’s Environmental Management Inspectorate and the Green Scorpions.

SEE PICS: Alleged poachers caught trying to sell pangolin in Midrand

The suspects made their second appearance on Wednesday after the case was postponed last week to appoint a Shona language interpreter and arrange their legal representatives.

The case was postponed to 1 June for further investigation. Olivia was discovered in the boot of a Toyota Corolla and weighed 8.3kg at the time of the rescue.

Jansen said it seemed Olivia was in captivity for approximately two weeks, despite the poachers claiming they caught her a few days before the bust.

Dr Kelsey Skinner at the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital said Olivia was doing well despite the poor conditions she was in when she arrived.

“She was about 1.5kg underweight when she came in,” Skinner said.

She explained that the animals are rated according to a five-point ratio when they are admitted to the hospital.

“Her condition was 2/5 where it should be at 3.5 and higher.”

Skinner said Olivia was responding well to medical treatment and support feeding. Olivia will start with her supervised feeding routine this week, when volunteers take her out at night to feed in the wild.

Skimmer said that Olivia would spend two to three weeks at the hospital recovering and hopefully pick up weight because of the difference in ants available to hunt in winter compared to summer.

“We are happy with the progress she’s made in the past four days,” Skinner said.

She said the texture of the scales indicated she has was a mature pangolin and had had a few pups.

It was essential for Olivia to recover fully and grow strong enough to survive the winter once she was released into the wild.