Bringing conservation to the Cape Flats

Eemaan Singlee, 24, with Khetha Journalism Course teacher Les Aupiais.

A young woman from Heideveld, who is determined to promote nature conservation on the Cape Flats, screened a documentary at her home last week about the endangered pangolin.

Eye of the Pangolin, a film by Bruce Young, tells how the scaly anteaters are threatened by rampant poaching.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, pangolins are the most trafficked mammals in the world. Over the past decade, more than a million have been taken from the wild to feed demand in China and Vietnam. Their meat is considered a delicacy, while their scales, which are made of keratin, are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

All eight pangolin species – four in Africa and four in Asia – are protected under national and international laws, and three of the Asian species are listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

Of the four African species, the giant ground pangolin and the white-bellied pangolin, are listed as endangered while the black-bellied pangolin and Temminck’s ground pangolin are listed as vulnerable.

In South Africa, pangolins are found in northern KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North West, and Limpopo.

The screening was held in Eeman Singlee’s garage last Wednesday, and she laid on popcorn and cool drinks for her guests to create a cinema vibe.

In October, the 24-year-old film-maker attended a conservation camp in the Kruger National Park through the Khetha Journalism Course. She spent four days in the wild learning about wildlife trafficking and conservation.

Ms Singlee said the Earth would lose its greatest gardeners if pangolins were lost because they kept ants and termites under control. Without them, crops and vegetation would suffer.

“There will be an infestation of ants and termites in people’s homes and businesses, and the ecosystem will fall apart. Like with all animals, they have a role in the ecosystem, and when one step is missing, it has a ripple effect,” she said.

“We can raise awareness of the issues plaguing the pangolins and ensure that more voices stand up as advocates to put down laws that could limit the degradation of the pangolins.

“I want others to feel this deep-rooted passion and love for conservation, and I want them to think further than what is happening in their areas.”

Heideveld ward councillor Anthony Moses praised Ms Singlee for her efforts.

“I’m super proud of you and what you are doing,” he said. “It is an inspiration for others to follow suit.”

Caroline Peters, the founder of the Callas Foundation, a non-profit organisation that runs social-upliftment projects, said that communities did not speak enough about conservation.

“But, as women, we include conservation in everything that we do. Thank you for bringing this home,” she said.

Eemaan created a cinema vibe in her garage, complete with popcorn and cool drinks, to screen the documentary, Eye of the Pangolin.
Founder of the Callas Foundation, Caroline Peters, left, with Heideveld ward councillor Anthony Moses.