“It’s vitally important that we stamp out this trade and save these beautiful creatures”
Until the prof sent me this story, I had never heard of a pangolin, and my initial impression (as a Southerner) was that it looks like a giant armadillo. The pangolin, however, is an anteater that is currently endangered because its scales are seen as medicinal and its meat a delicacy in Africa and Asia. As such, this scaly anteater is the most poached and most trafficked mammal in the world.
#WorldPangolinDay seeks to illuminate the plight of the pangolin and to ensure that this mammal survives into future generations.
The World Wildlife Fund describes the pangolin:
What’s scaly from tip to tail and can curl into a ball?
These solitary, primarily nocturnal animals, are easily recognized by their full armor of scales. A startled pangolin will cover its head with its front legs, exposing its scales to any potential predator. If touched or grabbed it will roll up completely into a ball, while the sharp scales on the tail can be used to lash out.
Also called scaly anteaters because of their preferred diet, pangolins are increasingly victims of illegal wildlife crime—mainly in Asia and in growing amounts in Africa—for their meat and scales.
Eight species of pangolins are found on two continents. They range from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered.
Four species live in Africa: Black-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla), White-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis), Giant Ground pangolin (Smutsia gigantea) and Temminck’s Ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii).
The four species found in Asia: Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata), Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis), Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) and the Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla).
According to the BBC, a study revealing the trafficking routes of the pangolin can aid law enforcement in protecting this endangered mammal.
Stirling University led the first ever study into how criminals were sourcing the animals from African forests.
The researchers found pangolins were being transported illegally across remote forest borders in an attempt to avoid increased law enforcement.
The pangolin is the world’s most trafficked mammal, and threatened with extinction.
The new study was led by Dr Katharine Abernethy of Stirling University’s faculty of natural sciences and also involved the University of Sussex, Gabonese researchers and other industry partners.
It found local hunters in Gabon were selling increasing numbers of the animals to Asian workers stationed on the continent for major logging, oil exploration and agro-industry projects.
The team also discovered that the price for giant pangolins had risen at more than 45 times the rate of inflation between 2002 and 2014.
The findings are published in the African Journal of Ecology on World Pangolin Day.
It is hoped they will help law enforcers tackle the increasing problem.
Former Mayor of London and current Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and MP Boris Johnson issued this plea for the pangolin on Twitter:
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) February 17, 2018
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