PANGOLINS: THE MOST HUNTED MAMMAL
“Pangolins are the most hunted mammal that you’ve never heard of. Millions have been traded and killed in the last decade…”
© Copyright Sean Lee-Davies for Project C:Change
Pangolins, often called “scaly anteaters”, are the most heavily trafficked animals in the world. These introverted, primarily nocturnal mammals are hunted for their meat, considered a delicacy in China and Vietnam. Their scales – made of keratin (like human nails) – are utilised in traditional medicine and folk remedies to treat illnesses such as arthritis, asthma, etc. despite lack of scientific proof to back their healing properties.
“With its armoured shell and peculiar gait, the humble pangolin looks more like an anteater prepped for medieval battle than an animal under threat.”
— Guy Kelly for The Telegraph
Pangolins consume up to 70 million ants a year. They are literally toothless, but have tongues longer than their bodies (extending as much as 39 inches) to capture ants underground. When threatened, they roll themselves up into tight balls.
Ironically, pangolins’ most powerful defence against natural predators is the reason they are now critically endangered. Poachers can snare them while they are rolled up into balls. Since pangolins only reproduce once a year, they can never satisfy the growing demand from the burgeoning Chinese market. Over the past 15 years, the population of pangolins has been halved.