Ker & Downey Botswana have become the first Southern Africa safari operator to adopt the pangolin viewing guidelines, published by nonprofit conservation organisation Pangolin.Africa, as a standard for all their guides.
The Pangolin Guardians program was devised as a way of educating people about the pangolins as a species as well as what you should (or shouldn’t do) when you are lucky enough to encounter one in the wild.
The Pangolin Guardians Program is a free two part online mobile friendly course that takes approximately 15 minutes to complete with the participant being issued with a personalised certificate of completion at the end.
The first part of the course sets out to fill in some of the “knowledge gaps” with such a misunderstood animal including whether pangolins and armadillos are related and how many pangolin species there are in the world.
The second part addresses much needed advice on what to do when you encounter a pangolin in the wild. These viewing guidelines were developed after a pan-African survey, completed by over 500 guides trackers, about current viewing attitudes was compiled. This data was presented to pangolin specialists and guide training organisations and a protocol was devised.
“What became clear from the survey was that most people didn’t know that a pangolin which is curled up or lying on the ground is an animal under huge stress. Pangolins don’t really vocalise when threatened so people thought it was ok to approach it (or worse pick it up) causing the animal even more stress.” says Toby Jermyn head of Pangolin.Africa. “A stressed pangolin is expending energy it doesn’t have to waste, cutting down on its foraging time and will most probably cause the pangolin to abandon its home range in search of an area where that might not happen again”.
Ker & Downey Botswana have always prided themselves on the constant development of their guiding team and jumped at the opportunity to enrol their staff in the program. In addition to the certificate of completion the company has also ordered Pangolin Guardian metal badges for their graduating staff to wear as a sign of their commitment to pangolin conservation and ethics.
“At Ker & Downey Botswana, we are continuously striving to enhance our knowledge and skill set. This course provides invaluable information and guidelines on Pangolin sightings. The accessibility of the course in both English and Setswana ensures that the “Pangolin Guardian” status extends beyond the guides to include the entire team.” said Fran Hird, Managing Director of Ker & Downey Botswana.
The Pangolin Guardians program will be available for anyone to take, and Ker & Downey Botswana will be encouraging their guests to also take the course. “It’s important that the clients as well as the guides understand what to do at a pangolin sighting so it can be enjoyed by everyone with minimal, if any, disturbance to the pangolin they are viewing” says Jermyn “seeing a pangolin in the wild is the ultimate wildlife experience and by respecting the animals and not causing it stress would mean potential additional sightings of the same animal in the same area for many years to come.”
If you would like more information about the Pangolin Guardians course, please visit www.pangolin.africa and if you are a member of the safari industry and would like to discuss creating a branded course for your staff then please email firstname.lastname@example.org.