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The Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve is home to naturally occurring and resident Southern Ground Pangolin (Smutsia temminckii) , also known as the Cape Pangolin or Temminck’s Ground Pangolin. This species is listed as Vulnerable. As with all pangolin species, this species is consumed as bush meat in Africa, while in Asia, their scales are used for traditional medicines and their meat is eaten as a delicacy. The illegal trade in these animals is rampant, and pangolins are thought to be the most heavily trafficked animal globally. 

The Reserve and specifically the Back to the Wild Program has partnered with People for Pangolins and the African Pangolin Working Group to save these animals and give them a second chance within the Reserve’s protected boundaries. Our goal is to establish a pangolin rescue and rehabilitation centre on the Reserve in collaboration with these two organisations who are highlighting the plight of these incredible animals.

People for Pangolins is a non-profit organisation aiming to facilitate the conservation of all 8 Pangolin species found throughout Africa and Asia, all of which are threatened with extinction. Collaborating with international partners, we aim to support conservation projects and organisations in pangolin range countries through fundraising and awareness raising activities, as well as providing technical assistance with research and conservation. We, at People For Pangolins, understand that though people pose a major threat to pangolins globally they are also the key to saving these endangered animals.

We engage in fundraising activities and campaigns, which raise the profile of pangolin conservation globally. A notable example was the highly successful #pumpit4pangolins social media campaign which helped in racing global awareness regarding the plight of the pangolins and was featured in Africa Geographic, CNN and Sanctuary Asia. All proceeds from this campaign were used directly for pangolin rescue and rehabilitation activities in Vietnam.

With increasing poaching pressures in Africa we hope to setup a rescue and rehabilitation centre in South Africa in collaboration with Makalali and the African Pangolin Working Group, both of which are doing fantastic work for Africa’s pangolins.


The APWG’s objectives are encompassed by its mission statement:

“The African Pangolin Working Group will strive towards the conservation and protection of all four African pangolin species by generating knowledge, developing partnerships and creating public awareness and education initiatives.”

Pangolins in Africa are increasingly threatened by man’s numerous activities. Every year numerous pangolins are illegally smuggled to Asian markets while many more individuals are traded domestically, are accidentally killed on electrified fences and are accidentally killed on roads. The current rate of consumption and mortality is believed to far exceed the reproductive potential of the species, with the result that these species are being pushed ever closer to extinction.

The group’s activities are multi-faceted, and all aim to conserve these unique and iconic mammals. We have a strong focus on research, as this guides conservation initiatives and provides concrete information that is used to guide all our activities. We also engage with provincial, national and international law enforcement agencies to better protect pangolins through capacity-building and advice. Thirdly, we undertake public awareness campaigns in order to highlight the existence and the plight of pangolins so that people can make informed decisions. We work closely with rehabilitation centres to ensure that confiscated pangolins are returned to the wild whenever possible. We also engage with national and international NGOs, NPOs, scientists and other role-players, sharing knowledge and working together to ensure the continued survival of pangolins.