We release the pangolins at night in dense forest habitats where wild populations are known to exist. The location is chosen based on suitable habitat and where rangers are diligent (and can be trusted to be discrete) and where hunting is not so prevalent (but hunting is everywhere).

They are released male, female, alternatively. They are released at least 300 metres apart to reduce the chance of overlap of the home range between males. If a mother and child is in the group, we release them together. We don’t disclose locations as these are critically endangered species.

We tend to do releases once we have 10 or more pangolins suitable for release as we have to travel long distances to the release sites. This entails hiring a bus and generally six SVW staff will go on a release trip. The whole trip can take between 2-4 days and they are very expensive as we need to cover costs of bus hire, wages for staff and eating while on the road. We usually sleep on the bus. Once at the site, rangers will assist us as carrying the boxes into the forest as it is an arduous business. The trek into the forest usually takes about 5 -6 hours as we need to go deep into the forest in remote locations. One person will lead cutting a path with a machete and the rest of us follow.

Each person carries a box on their back that contains a pangolin. It’s a tough part of the job, but we agree it’s the most satisfying part of our work.