World First: Pangolin to Pangolin blood transfusion might save the little one's life!

A little Pangolin who was fighting for his life has been given a second chance thanks to the team at Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital.


Undisclosed Location – It’s the first time ever that a blood transfusion from Pangolin to Pangolin has been tested, but it was the only thing the team of experts could think of to save Fortunate’s life.

The Pangolin is the world’s most trafficked mammal. As a result, this elusive little fellow is now threatened with extinction across its home range. Pangolin numbers are now so low that every animal counts and we cannot afford to lose even one more!

Little Fortunate was found and confiscated in a sting operation where they believe that he had been in the trade for more than two weeks. This normally means that the Pangolins have not had food or water for the entire period while in captivity.

All pangolins, without exception, are compromised both physically and mentally when rescued from the illegal trade. During the hospitalisation and rehabilitation process, the aim is to attain ‘full and fit health’ before release. However, old injuries and illness picked up during capture often reoccur post-release. There have been instances where these traumatised animals have deteriorated post-release and had to be readmitted to the hospital, or worse, have succumbed to their illnesses.

Karin Lourens and the team at Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital have worked tirelessly at a secret location to try to save little Fortunate. All Temminck’s Ground Pangolins that are brought in to the hospital are kept offsite in undisclosed locations… for the Mammal & Vetrenerians safety!

“When we got him he was emaciated and terribly dehydrated. He had also broken off all his front claws trying to escape out of what they had kept him in,” Karin explained. 

The little Pangolin had a myriad of health issues, and even though he has been under their care for almost two months, he is still not nearly out of the woods.

One of his health issues required a plasma transfusion, but the team only had whole blood, from a healthy Pangolin they had just released but they had no other choice but to give him that. It was the first time ever that a blood transfusion from Pangolin to Pangolin has been done on Temminck’s ground Pangolins.

“But it seems to have worked as he has a lot more energy, and some of his blood values are normalising! Now the wait for his nails to grow back before we can think of releasing him. 

He is a very special little Pangolin male. His name is Fortunate, and we have grown very fond of him.” 

This story highlights the tragic Pangolin trade but more so, the incredible South Africans who are fighting back and looking after the survivors.

The Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital do incredible work but are always in need of public assistance! The Vet treats indigenous animals free of charge and relies solely on the donations.

They have several ways that people can help. They accept donations here or see their full wishlist here. An easy way to get involved is to also nominate them on your MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet rewards card; which you can do so here.

World First: Pangolin to Pangolin blood transfusion might save the little one's life!

Sources: Interview with Karin Lourens | Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital
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Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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