The world’s most trafficked animal.
You can be forgiven if you don’t know what a pangolin is, it’s most unlikely that you will come across one in the wild.
Before you set off on a game drive your guide will often ask you what you would like to see, mention a pangolin and see his reaction. You see, these small, armour-coated little anteaters are hard to find, many guides may only see one or two in their entire career, so when you do spot one, it is considered to be good luck! They are solitary, secretive and nocturnal and notoriously difficult to spot, but there is something undeniably endearing about them.
- A pangolin’s tongue is longer than its entire body
- They eat about 20,000 ants per day
- Pangolins close their nostrils and ears to keep the ants out
- Baby pangolins hitch a ride on their mother’s back and tail
- Pangolins don’t have teeth
- Scales make up 20% of a pangolin’s weight
They are unfortunately the world’s most illegally trafficked animal. They are hunted for both their meat and scales which are highly priced commodities, particularly in the Far East where it is believed the scales have medicinal healing properties and the meat is considered a delicacy. Much like rhino horn, pangolin scales are made of keratin and have no healing properties whatsoever!
There are 8 species of Pangolin, four are found in Asia and four in Africa. The Asian ones are classed as critically endangered and the African ones classed as vulnerable. The plight of the African pangolin is becoming worse. As the Asian pangolin numbers decline, the hunt for African pangolins appears to be on the increase.
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better” Albert Einstein
In 2019 World Pangolin Day will be celebrated on 16th February. World Pangolin Day is all about raising awareness of these unique mammals and the dangers they face. If you hadn’t heard of them before, now you have!