Okulunu was a large old 13kg male pangolin resident into the Mundulea locale which had been discovered, RF-tagged and tracked, lost and re-found again several times over 3-4 years (see previous blog posts on Okulunu). It had a large, well-established, home territory which we had roughly mapped, overlapping a dirt road adjacent to Mundulea. At the beginning of Paul's field work in September 2012, a systematic search was started by Paul and Tim, climbing the hills and at night to try to find the animal again using radio telemetry.
Tracking pangolins in the bush requires a great deal of patience or luck. By extreme good fortune soon after midnight of Sept 26th, a very weak signal was picked up at the entrance gate to Mundulea, after a (very fortuitous) delay in our starting the telemetry search. Following the signal's direction driving about 100m along the dirt road, Okulunu was seen ahead in the road in the vehicle's headlight! The strange scaly sounds which the animal makes when walking can be clearly heard in our video of the encounter.
As the aerial on Okulunu's RF tag was found to be broken (see photo), it only had a signal range of 100-200m above ground. Our encounter was therefore extremely fortunate, a chance in a 1000, as 15mins earlier or later and the animal would have crossed the road and been beyond detection range, or it could have been settled off the beaten track elsewhere in its home territory which was several km across! We were able to re-tag the animal and release it with an additional GPS tracking device the following morning.