Tuesday, April 19, 2011
P is for Pangolin
I don't really know what to say about this guy. My first reaction to the photo was some odd combination of "Aww" and "Huh?"
Is it an armadillo?
Is it an aardvark?
Is it some kind of anteater-porcupine hybrid?
Well, it is a kind of anteater. The pangolin has no teeth, but does have the signature anteater tongue that shoots out some 16 inches (longer than the animal's body!) to suck up little bugs and swallows them whole.
No one can really say for sure if the pangolin, that is, any of the 8 species of pangolin, is endangered. Because the animal is so secretive in its lifestyle, an accurate population count is nearly impossible to gauge. All that can really be said is that the pangolin's numbers are declining in China. Why are they declining?
Well, apparently they're a delicacy.
And poachers like their scales. In Vietnam, a pangolin can fetch up to $100 (that's USD) per kilogram, leading to upwards of $700 per animal killed. The animal is then fermented in rice wine and its scales are consumed because it is falsely believed that they have anti-inflammatory properties and improve circulation. This has been disproved by science.
When researching this adorable creature I came across some very unsavory images of descaled pangolins. It tears at my little vegan soul so much to write about animals that are in decline due to human encroachment/over-hunting, and to SEE the results of it is utterly heart-wrenching.
Photos uncredited at Bush Warriors