Pangolins, “the most trafficked animal that you’ve never heard of!”
They look like a scaly anteater which are mammals of the order Pholidota. There are several species living in Asia and Africa where they have their respective conservation organisations. They prefer sandy soils in woodlands and savannahs within reach of water where they find their insect prey. Most of their body is covered in scales made of keratin used as amour plates in self defence, they also can emit a noxious acid from their glands when they feel threatened almost like a skunk. Although it is commonly thought that they roll into a ball to get around, they use this feature as a defence mechanism against predators such as leopards, hyenas, and humans.
This next piece is from the African Wildlife Foundation, “Large-scale trafficking is driven by a belief in pangolins’ magical and curative properties and a demand for their meat. When mixed with bark from certain trees, the scales are thought to neutralise witchcraft and evil spirits. If buried near a man’s door they are said to give an interested woman power over him. The smoke from their scales is thought to improve cattle health, keep lions away, and cure ailments like nose-bleeds. Although their scales are made of keratin—the same substance that makes up human hair and nails—they are in high demand in certain Asian countries where the scales are believed to cure illnesses ranging from cancer to asthma, and their meat is considered a delicacy. In some areas, tribes believe a pangolin sighting indicates there will be a drought and the only way to prevent it is by killing the animal.”
What you can do:
Becoming a ‘member’ of these foundations commits to them a small amount to assist in their conservation efforts. In particular, the AWF has a $25 membership program which helps to fund the promotion of public awareness for the scaly creatures, deploy protection dogs in the Canines for Conservation program, as well as engaging and incentivising the communities living around the Pangolin to protect the threatened wildlife. Take pride in the animals you choose to protect, and know that you are making a difference to sustain their health.