Pangolin tracking in Mundulea- expert assistance

Pangolin tend to be solitary, one individual ranging over several sqr. km and their spoor are hard to track through undergrowth, as they walk on two legs, lifting their tail off the ground most of the time. Rare traces of tail marks and their circular paw pads we think we found later are shown below:


Places where they have scratched out ants or termites to eat are more characteristic, showing the neat marks of their claws and perhaps a trace of their tail when it has been used to counterbalance the digging.

However, even these feeding sites can be difficult to distinguish from those of other animals such as honey badgers or porcupines, and their recency is difficult to read unless you are an expert in tracking. We therefore decided to engage a San Bushman game tracker to assist in mapping out some preferred pangolin territories in the Mundulea reserve, hoping of course to capture a specimen for tagging.

After an 800km round trip back to Windhoek to rent a town car, Paul drove from Mundulea to the Nyae Nyae Conservancy Office in Tsumkwe to pick up an expert tracker there who had agreed to help us in the hunt for pangolins. Driving distances in Namibia are always large. The remote community of Tsumkwe near the Botswana border lies about 390km from Mundulea, the last 250km being the dreaded C44.

This 4hr long straight gravel road due East to the border needs quite some patience and concentration with only a 2-wheel drive prone to sliding. (In two round trips to Tsumkwe, Paul only came off the road once, fortunately without damage or injury!). At Tsumkwe, the San Bushman tracker, !ho ||nani (John Nani) from the nearby village of Da||ua was met at the Conservancy Office.  There was just enough time before sunset to drive 40 km back on the C44 and another very tricky 40km North on a soft sandy road to the the Nhoma Camp to surprise an old friend Arno there, watch some of the nearby Bushman villagers dancing around the campfire and enjoy the hospitality of one of Arno's palatial tourist tents for the night.
Nhoma San Bushmen
!ho ||nani (John Nani)

The following day, Paul returned - with only one puncture - to Tsumkwe, to collect John for the long drive back together to Grootfontein and then back to Mundulea. Luckily, there was still some petrol at the only fuelling station in Tsumkwe to fill up for the C44 return run.

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