The ‘Pangolin Men’ Saving The World’s Most Trafficked Mammal

ADRIAN STEIRN: To see the relationship between animal and carer in a single frame was very
relevant for people out there to actually care. MAN: Here in Zimbabwe, we’re proud to save the pangolins. Every day, with my friends,
we protect the animal. We walk them, we feed them, we protect them like our children. COMM: The pangolin is the most trafficked mammal in the world. There are eight species
– four in Asia and four in Africa, and more than a million have been illegally hunted
and killed in the last decade alone. COMM: In Zimbabwe, the Tikki Hywood Trust is devoted to rehabilitating pangolins rescued
from poachers. And photographer Adrian Steirn was lucky enough to be granted access to their work. ADRIAN STEIRN: I’d always wanted to document the relationship that these men had with these
animals. And I think once I was afforded that opportunity I wanted to come and shoot something
very very different. There are two sets of photos. Essentially, there is the reportage
photos of what I saw in front of me of how these men interact, and then I wanted to shoot
portraits of these men, take very beautiful portraiture that would, I think, hopefully
affect people, would make people sit up and watch and listen and think, “What’s that
animal? What’s happening here?” And that was what I set out to do. It was something
that I thought I could make a difference with. ADRIAN STEIRN: When I first saw a pangolin, I first saw the relationship that these men
had with these animals, it was beyond extraordinary, a little pre-historic creature that in that
moment is completely reliant on that handler. ADRIAN STEIRN: Every single day of the year, these guys go out, ensure that those animals
are fed to make their weight so they can be released back into the wild. I was very, very,
very fortunate to get the access that I did, and they’re so highly traded and they are
so endangered that everything they do is covert. COMM: Adrian is hoping that his work will bring attention to the most endangered animal
that many people have never even heard of. ADRIAN STERIN: I think if people learn what a pangolin is from these images, then we’re
moving in the right direction. I hope that people learn to care that little bit more,
not just about pangolin, but about our planet. Show these photos to your children. Let them
have a look at them. Let them ask questions. Feel good knowing that you have the answers
and in doing that, we’ve educated the next generation. That’s all we can do.

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