Nature: The World’s Most Wanted Animal premieres Wednesday, May 23 at 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).
Conservationists at the organization Save Vietnam’s Wildlife rescue pangolins from the black market. Pangolins arrive to the care center with various injuries, including one whose back leg has been severed.
[Narrator] Save Vietnam's Wildlife is a lifeline for pangolins rescued from the black market.
They've received over 400 this year alone.
And more are arriving all the time.
[Thai Van Nguyen] No sadly, we lose one and that has been by snare trap by the belly and then its open wound.
[Narrator] Fifteen Sunda pangolins were confiscated near the Vietnamese border with China.
The team assesses the surviving animals for any sign of injury.
They've all been vomiting a yellow substance.
[Maria Diekmann] And what is the yellow indicating?
That they were force fed?
[Thai Van Nguyen] Yeah.
That is the tubes where they try to put inside the belly of the pangolin and put through the mouth, so you will see, this here.
[Woman] Put the towel on here.
[Man] Hold the line.
[Man] I'm holding it too argh!
[Narrator] These pangolins were destined for the dinner table and force-fed to increase their weight and price.
[Thai Van Nguyen] Oh look that's in.
[Maria Diekmann] Every single one of these pangolins went through that same thing?
[Thai Van Nguyen] Yeah, they.
[Maria Diekmann] So they were all handled by a bunch of loud noisy people pumping things, rice into their stomach.
[Thai Van Nguyen] Yeah, yeah.
[Narrator] When frightened, a pangolin's first defense is to roll into a protective ball, but this makes it easy prey for poachers.
Most of the animals are mercifully free from injury.
[Maria Diekmann] You hungry maybe?
[Narrator] But one young male is in real trouble.
His back leg has been severed, most likely by a snare.
[Thai Van Nguyen]: Oh my god, oh.
[Maria Diekmann] It should get him a pretty good chance of survival.
[Thai Van Nguyen]: We just do our best we can and yeah so hopefully the vets can, doing some operation tomorrow.