If you were asked what the world’s most trafficked animal was, what would you say? If you answered pangolin, then you’d be correct. Most people have never heard of the humble pangolin, and while it exhibits a stunning resemblance to the widely recognized armadillo, it’s actually a vastly different type of animal in its own right.
Despite their appearance, pangolins aren’t reptiles – they’re actually mammals. They’re covered in scales that the animal uses to protect itself against large predators, including but not limited to large cats. All eight of the world’s pangolin species are found either in Africa or India, and sadly, they’re all in danger of extinction.
So, what’s the deal with pangolins anyway? As it turns out, it’s their scales. Poachers needlessly capture, torture, and slaughter wild pangolins to snatch their scales, grind them up, and sell them on the black market. These scales are frequently used in traditional medicine, but from what we can gather, there’s no scientific basis to suggest that pangolin scales offer any sort of treatment for ailments.
Pangolins are slow reproducers, with lucky mothers generally giving birth to just one baby each year. While the species may seem at first glance like an inconspicuous and insignificant component of the animal kingdom, its disappearance could potentially disturb the natural order of the mother nature’s fragile ecosystem.
Given just how many pangolins we’ve lost in recent years, their endangerment is imminent, and it’s time we do something to protect them from extinction.