I had never heard of a pangolin before last week. What did I learn? These incredible creatures are the most hunted animal on the planet. They are also totally bizarre.
I’ve seen them described as medieval anteaters, modern-dinosaurs, walking pinecones, artichokes with legs, nature’s backhoe and armored Pokemon. Let’s go ahead and talk about why pangolins are so awesome (and weird).
Pangolins are the most trafficked animal on the planet, which is why they need our protection. There are eight species of pangolin spread over two continents, Africa and Asia. All eight species range from Vulnerable to Critically endangered.
Their bodies are covered in heavy scales, which is one of the reasons they are traded illegally. According to CNN, “pangolins are trafficked by the thousands for their scales, which are boiled off their bodies for use in traditional medicine; for their meat, which is a high-end delicacy in China; and for their blood, which is seen as a healing tonic.”
Last Wednesday, 182 nations of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) unanimously agreed to a total ban on international trade on all species of pangolin – a decision that received much praise around the world.
12 CRAZY PANGOLIN FACTS!
1) Pangolins walk awkwardly on their hind legs, using their tail for balance.
2) When pangolins are frightened they curl up into a tiny, strong roly poly ball.
3) Even big cats in the wild have no idea what to do with them…
4) Pangolins don’t have any teeth. Instead, they use their sticky tongue to eat insects.
5) A pangolins tongue can be longer than its body.
6) Speaking of insects, pangolins can consume more than 70 million ants a year.
7) Baby pangolins are carried on their mother’s tail or back.
8) 20% of a pangolin’s weight is comprised of scales.
9) More than 10,000 pangolins are trafficked illegally each year.
10) Pangolins ears and nose have special valves that close when ants attack.
11) The pangolin’s large scales are made of keratin, like our nails.
12) Nobody knows how many pangolins are left or how long they live.
Sources: The Telegraph, World Wildlife Fund, World Pangolin Day & Nat Geo Wild.
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