The pangolin, sometimes called the scaly anteater, is a unique and fascinating mammal found in Asia and Africa. They are known for their distinctive scales and ability to curl up into a ball to protect themselves from predators. Unfortunately, pangolins are facing a significant threat due to illegal poaching and trafficking for their scales and meat.
Habitat and Distribution
The Asiatic pangolins are found throughout South Asia and East Asia, including Nepal, India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and China. Asian pangolin species have bristles between their scales, while their African counterparts do not.
Pangolins are nocturnal and primarily arboreal, living in trees and burrows. They feed on ants and termites, using their long, sticky tongue to capture their prey.
Pangolins are the Most Trafficked Mammals in the World
In China and Vietnam, pangolins are highly prized by consumers for their meat and unique scales. While they are a potent defense against predators, their scales are useless against poachers, and all eight species in Asia and Africa are now under threat.
Over the past decade, over a million pangolins have been illegally taken from the wild to feed demand in China and Vietnam. Their meat is considered a delicacy, while their scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine as they are believed to treat a range of ailments from asthma to rheumatism and arthritis.
Today, pangolins are prohibited from all international commercial trade. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed all eight species of pangolins as endangered or critically endangered. However, these protections will not stop the pangolin poaching crisis alone. Much more work needs to be done to stop the killing, trafficking, and demand for pangolins.
Current conservation efforts to save pangolins from extinction include:
Demand reduction: Reduce demand for pangolin scales and meat through targeted campaigns to consumers and by building relationships with policymakers.
Enforcement: Strengthen agencies that are protecting pangolins and their habitat such as anti-poaching units, aiding customs, and protected area management.
Conservation planning: Identify and monitor the distribution of pangolin populations, and the extent of threats like demand and trade in order to prioritize conservation interventions.
Public education: Raise the profile of pangolins as a first step towards changing behavior and encouraging conservation support.
Community engagement: Work with local communities living adjacent to the pangolin habitat so they see pangolins as something worth more alive than poached.
What Can You Do To Help Pangolins?
As pangolin numbers are rapidly declining, we must take immediate action to protect them and their habitat.
Tell your friends and family about pangolins. In recent years, more people around the world have learned about pangolins and the threats to them. This has led to more support for policy reform, scientific research, and more conservation efforts. By sharing this blog post, you can help spread the word and raise awareness for the world's most trafficked mammal.
It is not too late to save pangolins and many other endangered species from extinction. Asia Wild is working to protect and preserve Asian animals, like the pangolin, by supporting local community organizations and programs making a big impact in Asia and around the world. Support Asia Wild's conservation efforts by making a donation today.