A female pangolin was spotted in a residential area along Damuan recently.
Homeowners captured a short clip of the unexpected visitor before calling the team from Brunei Biodiversity and Natural History Society (BruWild) to escort the scaly anteater off their compound.
Pangolins are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN’s Red List as the demand for their meat and scales has skyrocketed.
Brunei remains one of the last strongholds for this species.
The small, docile pangolin’s scales are highly coveted for traditional medicines and their meat is seen as a delicacy.
There have been reports of pangolins being sold on social media. Just a kilogramme of its scales can fetch up to USD500 and as many as a million pangolins are believed to have been captured over the last decade, making them the most trafficked animals in the world.
Pangolins curl into a ball when scared, making them easy targets for poachers. It has also been linked to the coronavirus outbreak, however no substantial scientific evidence supported the claim.
Upon physical assessment by BruWILD, the critter measures at 92cm long from snout to tail which is the characteristics of a matured Sunda pangolin species – a common species found in Borneo.
Founder and President of BruWILD Lin Ji Liaw praised the homeowner for reporting the encounter immediately and advised the public to do the same.
“Wild animals, such as the pangolin, require the urgent need of a proper wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre.
“Our team of trained wildlife rescue and rehabilitators working with the Wildlife Division has taken the pangolin into our care to conduct a physical assessment before releasing it back in a safe location.”
Pangolins are nocturnal animals that only come out at night for food and are rarely spotted in the wild due to their scarce population.
The team also filmed the pangolin for research purposes using red light since it causes less harm to the eyes of these nocturnal animals.
BruWILD has handed over the pangolin to the Wildlife Division, Forestry Department to be released in a safe location.
The Wildlife Division has acknowledged the handover, as they have the authority to manage, conserve and protect all fauna in the sultanate.
The division added that the pangolin will be released into its natural habitat as a way of contributing to the nation’s forest conservation and biodiversity.
Strict laws by the division ensure that pangolins are well protected. “It is a good thing to know these animals are still surviving here, but they are critically endangered animals so we need to do more to protect them,” said Lin Ji.
She added that the expansion of human development and loss of forest habitats in Brunei have forced many wild animals, including pangolins, to encroach into the human environment.
Although their population levels are still healthy, she hopes the entire community can engage together to protect them.
China raised the animal’s protected status to the highest level last week, removing the pangolins from the official list of traditional Chinese medicine treatments.