Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo have kidnapped a pangolin and are demanding ransom payment in order to release it.
Reports indicate that the animal is being held by the rebels in Virunga National Park. Over 120 gangs have been fighting in the park over land and mineral resources.
Conservationists believe the rebels want to start targeting animals as a way of raising funds.
The Nduma Defence of Congo which is thought to have kidnapped the pangolin sent pictures of “proof of life” to local conservationists demanding payment in order to release the animal.
However, Adams Cassinga, founder of Conserv Congo, believe paying the rebels could lead to more kidnappings.
“If we pay them, then we are doomed, the whole park and all the apes would be taken hostage,”
“They have seen how much money is spent on conservation issues and that rare animals are prized by the international community, and they would say even more so than the poor communities who live in the same area,” he said.
The Pangolin is dubbed the most trafficked mammal in the world’ by the World Wildlife Fund. In Malawi, the animal is targeted by criminals.