When a baby pangolin named Batikana was confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade with his mother last December, rescuers hoped that he’d still be able to have a normal life, nursing from his mom and getting the love he needed to survive.
But after a few days at the Tikki Hywood Trust rescue center in Zimbabwe, it became clear that his mother had been too disturbed by being stolen from the wild to keep nursing Batikana.
“It was sadly apparent that she was rejecting him,” Ellen Connelly, spokesperson for the trust, told The Dodo. “In our opinion this is natural instinct kicking in — when the mother knows she cannot care for her baby, she will abandon him or her in favor of her own survival.”
Rehabilitators made the tough decision to release Batikana’s mother to a protected and safe environment without him. It was determined that Batikana was better off staying at the rescue center to get stronger — even if it meant he’d never see his mom again. Rescuers bottle-fed the little baby to comfort him and keep him alive.