Home » Conservation » The Plight of the Pangolin

The Plight of the Pangolin

The Plight of the Pangolin
In 2017, Google’s doodle on 11 February ahead of Valentine’s Day was that of a sweet Pangolin in love.

Despite the attention the mammal received just before the day of love, many people still have no idea what a pangolin is, or that it is the world’s most endangered mammal.

Did you know that pangolins are the world’s only scaly mammal? Sadly however, these scales are what makes them the most trafficked mammal in the world, and all eight species face a significant threat from poachers and smugglers.

The 8th annual World Pangolin Day will be celebrated on 16 February 2019. World Pangolin Day is an opportunity for pangolin enthusiasts to join together in raising awareness about these unique mammals and their plight. Show your support on social media by using the hashtag #worldpangolinday.

World Pangolin Day

Spread the word and help save the pangolin. Photo credit: African Wildlife Foundation

Why are pangolins endangered?

Pangolins are the most-trafficked mammals in the world, and are in high demand for their meat and scales. More than one million pangolins have been illegally taken from the wild to be used in fashion products and purported medicinal remedies.

Places likes the Rare and Endangered Species Trust (REST) and the Tikki Hywood Foundation are trying to do everything they can to save these animals. The Tikki Hywood Foundation has a team of dedicated handlers at their base in Zimbabwe who spend their days walking and rehabilitating a handful of pangolins. Watch their story below.

Video courtesy of Barcroft Animals.

The foundation are always looking for any kind of help people are willing to give. So whether you want to donate, become a sponsor, or partner with them, they are eager for your assistance.

Facts about the pangolin

Save Pangolins.Org describes pangolins as “scaly anteaters,” that are covered in tough, overlapping scales.

  • These burrowing mammals eat ants and termites using an extraordinarily long, sticky tongue, and are able to quickly roll themselves up into a tight ball when threatened.
  • Eight different pangolin species can be found across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Although pangolins share similar characteristics with Xenarthrans (anteaters, armadillos, and sloths), they are in fact more closely related to the order Carnivora (cats, dogs, bears, etc.).
  • Pangolins’ insatiable appetite for insects gives them an important role in their ecosystem: pest control. Estimates indicate that one adult pangolin can consume more than 70 million insects annually.
  • Pangolins reach sexual maturity at two years, and most pangolins give birth to a single offspring, though two and three young have been reported in the Asian species.
  • Gestation periods range from 65-70 days (Indian pangolin) to 139 days (Cape and Tree pangolins).
  • When born, pangolins are about six inches long and weigh about 340g. Their scales are soft and pale, and begin to harden by the second day.
  • A mother will protectively roll around her baby when sleeping or if threatened. Babies nurse for three to four months, but can eat termites and ants at one month. At this time, the infant begins to accompany the mother outside of the burrow, riding on the base of her tail as she forages for insects.

Click here for more fascinating facts on the pangolin.

Celebrate World Pangolin Day

A pangolin mother closely protects her young, who latch onto her tail for safety. Photo credit: onca.org.uk

Support the plight of this incredible creature by visiting the World Wildlife Fund.

The endangered pangolin list

Asian pangolins

  • Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) – Critically Endangered
  • Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) – Critically Endangered
  • Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) – Endangered
  • Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis) – Endangered

African pangolins

  • Cape or Temminck’s Ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii) – Vulnerable
  • White-bellied or Tree pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis) – Vulnerable
  • Giant Ground pangolin (Smutsia gigantea) – Vulnerable
  • Black-bellied or Long-tailed pangolin  (Phataginus tetradactyla) – Vulnerable

Hope for pangolins

In 2016, a treaty of over 180 governments announced an agreement that would end all legal trade of pangolins and further protect the species from extinction. However, illegal trade of the species continues.

Adopt a pangolin and help save the species today. Share this information with family and friends to help spread the word on the world’s most endangered mammal.

More From Country Life

Send this to a friend