This is the Asian Pangolin.
The pangolin is the only mammal on the planet that bears actual scales.
It is also the only carnivore that does not have teeth.
Plus, it’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Just look at it.
It rolls itself into a ball to protect itself from predators, like an armadillo; and it invades large, often infesting insect nests with an incredibly long pink tongue, like an anteater.
But they’re not related to any of those things. In fact, they are so unique, scientists put them in their own biological order: Pholidota.
But there’s a problem. It’s also two other things:
1) One of the least scientifically-researched mammals on earth. Therefore, it is one of the least known by the public.
Nobody knows what a pangolin is.
2) It is one of the most commonly poached animals in the world.
Prized for its scales, which are fabled to promote menstruation and lactation, treat rheumatism and arthritis, and reduce swelling, the pangolin is captured en masse in Southeast Asia and China. Now, there are even ridiculous claims that their scales can cure cancer.
Fact: their scales are made of keratin, which is the same exact thing that your fingernails are made of.
And, like your fingernails, pangolin scale has absolutely no medicinal benefit.
Nevertheless, in 2011, about 60,000 pangolins were stolen from the wild… in Vietnam alone. TRAFFIC, the anti-illicit trade organization, estimates that this is only 10% of the entire Asian industry.
Only a few are ever rescued, and if they are, the trauma of their experience actually kills them after a few weeks. Pangolins become easily overstressed, and literally cannot be held in captivity. Those few who do survive cannot reproduce.
The Chinese and Sunda Pangolins are on the Endangered list. The Indian and Indonesian Pangolins are Near Threatened. But the industry has not slowed down.
The only pangolin species that is not severely poached is, surprisingly, the African Pangolin. But as Asian species begin to become more and more rare, conservationists are worried that Africa will be the next main supplier.
Before this happens, you should know about the Pangolin.
Yesterday, February 16, was INTERNATIONAL PANGOLIN DAY. Though the holiday is over, you can still signal boost, and make sure that more people at least know about this incredible animal.
Thanks for reading.