Today, 18th February 2012, is World Pangolin Day so we hope you’ll join with us in celebrating these wonderfully weird little creatures. Pangolins, or scaly anteaters, are specialised for feeding on ants and termites and there are two pangolin species in the top 100 EDGE mammals: the Chinese pangolin (ranked number 91) and the Sunda pangolin (ranked number 92).
Sadly, pangolins are under massive threat. They are one of the most exploited animals in Southeast Asia and are intensively hunted for their meat, which is considered a delicacy, and their skin and scales, which are used in traditional Asian medicine. Just today, TRAFFIC reported that in May 2011 Indonesian customs officials inspecting a shipment bound for Vietnam discovered a gruesome 5.9 metric tons of pangolin meat and another 790 kilograms of pangolin scales hidden within the cargo.
Here at EDGE we’re working hard to contribute to pangolin conservation. As some of you may have seen in this blog, we’ve just started to support an EDGE Fellow who’s working on the Sunda pangolin – developing a release programme to enable pangolins that have been confiscated from the illegal trade to be returned to the wild. We’re also working with another researcher to develop a project looking at the Chinese pangolin in Nepal where very little information about the species is known.
Happy World Pangolin Day everyone! Let’s hope this is the year the world takes a stand to save the pangolin!