But I'm Not a Scientist..

Man, oh man, it sure seems that it is all but impossible to approach certain topics from a non-partisan standpoint these days!  Discussion on anything from favorite football teams to whether you prefer light or dark chocolate seems to have a political slant.  Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, or at least the chocolate part is .  A while back, I had a conversation with a friend that touched on this, and they said something that has been ringing in my head ever since.  My friend (We’ll call her Alice, since I don’t remember who it actually was) said that the dangerous thing that seems to have happened is that people have begun taking their beliefs as fact.  This idea troubles me.  Fact shouldn’t be subjective.  Fact isn’t moral or amoral, and it most certainly isn’t Republican or Democrat.  A fact is something that has been proven to be true, without room for argument.  As long as you are alive, or at least not in a coma, you will wake up every day.  That is a fact.  Do you want another fact?  The sun is bright.  There is no one that can dispute either of these things.  I suppose that since we now have facts on the table, we should have an example of something that is construed as a fact, but in truth it is not.  Many people seem to believe that marijuana is bad for you and should remain illegal throughout the nation.  This is not a fact, it is an opinion.  You could easily make the argument (that would be closer to scientific fact), that alcohol is leaps and bounds worse for you than marijuana ever could be. 

Let’s bring it back to the set of facts that I’m writing about.  And yes, I mean facts, not opinions disguised as facts.  Over the past few years, we have encountered one of the warmest spring/summer’s on record, massive droughts cover much of our country, and as a contrast to the droughts, the Midwestern states just wrapped up a winter that set records for having the most days (53!) below zero, which brought no shortage of snow.  When was the last winter that there were more days below zero in Minneapolis? 1874-75.  Scientists worldwide agree that the world as a whole is getting warmer, and in many places the winters are getting colder, both of which will have drastic effects on virtually every species on the planet.  There are some people that say that it’s just part of another natural cycle for the Earth,  and yes, the Earth has always gone in cycles, and there is bound to eventually be an intense warmup & cool down, which will probably lead to another ice age. But even though there are cycles to our planet, it is foolish to believe that for everything we have put into the atmosphere that we have not altered the natural cycle.

Over the past few months, there have been a number of high level policy makers that have gone on record as saying that they can’t comment on climate change because they’re not scientists.  If you take this at face value, it seems like one of the most astute and pragmatic things that any of our elected officials have ever said.  I never like to be the bearer of bad news, but sadly, that’s not quite how they meant it.  What should come as no surprise is that instead of meaning this as a rational statement to find solutions and consult actual scientists about possible solutions and future actions, it was meant to delay legislation and serve as an excuse for inaction.  “I’m not a scientist” also means that “I’m not going to vote for that piece of environmental legislation, even though I know it probably helps solve the problem, and I’m not going to vote for it because I’m terrified of the 24 hour news cycle, and that I would look like anything less than the most extreme embodiment of my party.”  Ok, that last quote I made up, but that’s what these politicians are really saying.  Anyone with a reasonable and grounded mind can see the writing on the wall.

I applaud these policy makers for being able to at least begin admitting that they don’t have all the answers, even if it was motivated by excuses on par with those given by 3rd graders.  So let’s not get cynical about it, and pat these politicians on the back.  They’re admitting that they have a problem, which if you’ve ever been in rehab, you know that is the first step for finding a solution.  In this case, the next step is asking the people that actually are scientists what is happening, and what factors are contributing to this. 

Right or left, Republican or Democrat, it doesn’t matter which way you lean, the time for action is now.  Real, live, actual scientists all around the world are pressing for change and trying to talk sense into many of these politicians that write our policies.  The environment, and it’s well-being should not be a political stance.  Not caring about the environment, and willingly trashing (pun intended) all legislation that supports it is not a conservative value.  However, it is completely stupid and terribly shortsighted.  Politicians always like to hold press conferences where they can talk about how they just want to leave this country a better place than it was when they got here, so their children inherit a stronger tomorrow.  Let’s start calling them out on this.  If they truly are more worried about tomorrow than today, about their grandchildren’s livelihood than their current ability to hold a job, they need to start passing environmentally friendly legislation. 

Hopefully by now, you’re saying to yourself something like “Yeah, damn right, politicians!  Start passing legislation that improves the air we breathe instead of advocating for more coal mines.”  So the next step is action.  And this is where it gets a little tricky.  While I understand that the popular thing to do in this country when it comes to protesting politics is to make a pretty sign, and go chant some slogan in front of some semi-important building.  Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that doesn’t work.  At all, ever.  So let’s do something that matters.  What makes this country turn? Money.  What do these politicians care about almost as much as getting reelected?  Money.  Go out and make a statement.  Instead of buying a fancy crossover, or SUV, buy a Nissan Leaf.  Instead of buying a few dozen bottles of water at Costco, buy a few reusable Nalgene’s.  Make a statement with  your purchases, and the companies that curry for political favors will notice, and then hopefully, they’ll start passing that awareness on to our politicians in Washington.

Actions, Reactions, and Far Reaching Effects Part 3

As human beings, we have a diverse set of beliefs.  There are different religions, cultures, and superstitions.  This is not the problem.  The problem is that when it comes to following through on these beliefs and superstitions, specifically things like pangolin meat being a delicacy and believing that their scales have medicinal tendencies, we often turn a blind eye to what species are affected by them.  Justification will come in the form of either ignoring the problem all together, or believing that the superstitions or beliefs outweigh the animal’s right to life.  As human beings, we tend to be empathetic and care about the plight of species like the pangolin, but as soon as a long held cultural belief comes into play, we become unaware and numb.  This trend needs to stop.  We cannot be compassionate and responsible only part of the time.  We cannot search for growth and education, while refusing to admit that old habits need to go.

When we consume with the level of reckless abandon that we have been, hundreds, if not thousands of species all around the world are hurt.  I’d like to believe that when it comes to this chain of consequence, we don’t do it intentionally.  It seems more than a little malicious and non-sensical for any of us to have any sort of vendetta against interesting creatures such as the pangolin. But regardless of intent, just because an animal’s meat is considered to be a delicacy, or its outer coat to be pretty, we don’t have to consume it.  There are plenty of things in life that are much better off, for all species involved, when the need to consume or own isn’t there. 

The fact of the matter is this: Virtually every species in the world plays an important part in their own eco-systems.  Frequently they are links in these systems that we don’t respect the importance.  There is a delicate balance that the Earth has built in these ecosystems, and we seem to be disrupting them at will.  Whether they are funny looking, tasty, pretty, or part of regional belief systems, every species plays an important role.  For us as humans, to be so terribly short sighted with our selfishness and think only of our own desires, is irresponsible. For every species that we lust after and consume at will, we are interrupting a vital part of this planet that we live on.  Instead of consuming with reckless abandon, we need to practice self-restraint and view species like the pangolin from afar.  It will be better for everyone, both pangolin and human, in the long run.  

Actions, Reactions, and Far Reaching Effects Part 2

Let’s talk about pangolins.  I’m sure that there is nothing else that you would rather talk about right now.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that your appreciation of this awesome little species id what brought you to this blog.  If it isn’t, and you’ve just stumbled across it, you should keep on reading.  If it’s right where you want to be, you should also keep on reading.  This is the second in a three part series that focuses on human consumption and the far reaching effects of it.  In the first part of the series, I wrote about the mindsets that surround over consumption, in this post I will tell you about a species that is rapidly disappearing due to said consumption, and in the third and final part, I will attempt to motivate you towards being more self-aware of how your desires for consumption (don’t lie, we all have them), end up having far-reaching and often unintended effects.

So anyways, back to the pangolin.  Pangolins are pretty cool little creatures.  They are part of the same family as their larger cousin the anteater, and much of their life is spent in the same fashion as the anteater.  They almost exclusively eat insects, and they live on a few different continents.  If you’d like to learn more about pangolin’s as a whole, check out this awesome website, that my classmates put together:  www.pangolinsummer.weebly.com

Sadly, extinction is right around the corner for these guys, but they are not unique in the sense that they did nothing to bring this struggle upon themselves.  There are species all over the world that face similar problems.  Every continent and every country have a few.  I am not the type of person that can be described as a bleeding heart, but I don’t think that species like the pangolin have done anything to invite extinction.  

Pangolin _ Save Pangolins

While pangolins are the most heavily trafficked animals on the world but they don’t receive the attention as big cats (lions, tigers, leopards, etc.) or elephant or bear.  Also, the pangolins weren’t known by everyone and they are easy to mess up with another anteater, aardvarks or moles.The most important reason is that they are not popular. Second reason is that the organizations don’t have enough fun to expend their work. Governments in Southeast Asia and China have been slow to crack down on the illegal trade.
The time for action is now or it’s too late to do anything to save the most amazing animal, pangolin.
The easiest thing we can do is support organizations that help and save pangolins. When we travel to Southeast Asia or China, we shouldn't east or buy pangolins' products and report those actions to polices. This is some of the organizations.
- SavePangolins

Second action is that demand better law enforcement in China and Southeast Asia. People can sign up to make these governments pay more attention on the pangolins.
Most important action is that helps change people’s minds by make pangolins popular. The easy way is that people can use the internet, social network to share the information, news, pictures about pangolins. So their friends and families can know who they are and what happen to those amazing pangolin and share them. Some other way is that we can suggest movie companies can create movie or cartoon about the pangolin. The most famous Japanese anime and game is known as Pok√©mon that have two animal characters were designed based on the pangolin, Sandshrew and Sandslash.

Sandshrew and Sandslash
They aren’t succeeded to make pangolin popular but some other American cartoon movie can do it. Let’s them become more popular and famous such as Mickey Mouse (The Walt Disney) or Minion (Universal Studios) and give them name.

Pangolin with baby

Pangolins As A Delicacy

The endangered pangolin is known as a delicacy in Asia and Africa. You won’t find pangolin served in just any restaurant, but this mammal is usually found in a “high class” restaurant. These restaurants buy pangolins off of the black market because that is the only place that one can buy pangolins. Pangolins have to be purchased through this matter because they are endangered and are illegal to buy and/or sell.
If one was fortunate enough, or let’s say unfortunate enough, to find a restaurant that serves pangolin, it is extremely expensive. Pangolin delicacies range anywhere from $1,750 to $7,000. When ordering a pangolin in a restaurant one must order the entire pangolin because this is a way that the restaurant shows true quality of the endangered species. Restaurants are even known to trophy the pangolin on your table alive and kill it right there in front of you. They do this for the reassurance that this is actual pangolin meat and that whoever ordered the pangolin isn’t receiving a knock-off. 
Restaurants serve pangolin in many different ways. Pangolin blood is a delicacy along with their meat and scales. Pangolin blood is usually served with wine. Stir-fried pangolin skin with onions and mushrooms along with grilled pangolin are also very popular dishes. Pangolins have been described as “better than chicken” and “delicious.” These reports are hard to believe. How could one really enjoy eating an endangered species at a restaurant? There has to be a place in everyone’s thoughts that see’s the important and severity of this issue. Pangolins are endangered. They will continue to be endangered until they are all gone and the plates at restaurants are empty. This is unless people start taking the matter seriously and protect pangolins in their natural habitats.

Poaching Pangolins

Pangolins are not vicious creatures; they are more like a pinecone. Pangolins defensive position is to roll up like a ball making it hard for predators to grab ahold. This is the pangolins only defensive technique. They don’t have razor sharp claws or spikes to keep predators away especially the ones that are most dangerous; humans. Pangolin’s defensive position makes it easy for poachers to just pick pangolins up and throw them in a bag. Poachers first use a pack of hunting dogs to locate the pangolins. Once they are found they either set up snares in front of their home that are located on the ground and wait for them to come out or they just pick them up and toss them in a bag.
Poachers do not kill pangolins because they are worth more alive. After poachers capture pangolins they either freeze them alive or give them a sedative. Poachers and smugglers usually use these two techniques because pangolins do not handle stress well. Pangolins usually end up dead before they reach their final destination when being smuggled, thus making it bad for business. Restaurants want to be able to show their high paying customers that they are receiving a fresh endangered delicacy. The worth of pangolins to a poacher is about $22.5 per Kilo. The worth of a pangolin to a restaurant sky rockets to $350 per kilo to a restaurant in Vietnam. 

Pangolin _ Amazing/Astounding.

20 percent of pangolins’ body weight is their scales that are made of keratin, the same element with human finger nails.
Pangolin can dig in the ground, swim and swings from tree by its tail.
Chinese pangolins have ears that look almost human while African pangolins look like mini T-Rexes when they toddling on their back legs. Their maximum speed is up to three miles per hours when they use their long tail for support and run by their two back legs.

Pangolins are perfect tools for self-defense. Pangolins can roll up into a ball when endangered and use their sharp scales to lash out. Also, they have scent glands similar to those of the skunk which they can use to spray enemies.
Pangolins are one of the oddest mammals. Pangolins are ancient creatures and the earliest fossils of the Cape Pangolin species itself date back 40 million years. These pangolins play vital roles in many tropical and subtropical ecosystems but most people don’t know their existence.

Pangolins were so common perhaps a decade ago. In some parts of Indonesia, pangolins could literally hit by cars. It’s unbelievable that none of the pangolins died on impact and that might never happens again.
Minimum each year there are 10,000 pangolins are trafficked illegally. And up to 116.990 to 23,980 pangolins were traded in two years (according to Annamitucus, an advocacy group).
Some people said pangolin tasted like chicken; and reason they eta pangolin because pangolin is rare and expensive. In Vietnam, the price of pangolin is $350 per kilo (~2.2 pounds) but the pangolin-hunters (not only in Vietnam) only get paid under $30 per kilo.
No one can know how many pangolins still live in the wild and the pangolin could disappear forever before everyone realizes it exists.
Let’s race to save the pangolin.

Stuart White, “Animal trade down,” Phnom Penh Post, November 27, 2013.
Ella Davies, “‘Shocking’ scale of pangolin smuggling revealed,” BBC Nature News, March 14, 2014.

Pangolins: Scales of Power

As a child, I remember summers wandering the yard in search of potato bugs. I would live rocks, logs, and move dirt around hoping to catch one of these grey little bugs. I would grab one and place it in my palm. Acting in self-defense, the potato bug would roll itself into a tiny ball. I loved watching this thing completely transform itself from flat and mobile to round and contained. It was magic. How could something be so evolved to know that I was a threat and that the only way to protect itself was to roll up in a ball?

As I began my research on pangolins, I recognized that their defense mechanism was almost identical to the potato bugs I searched for so many years ago. They have short legs and roll up in a ball when threatened. The differ in their clawed front feet which make them slow and unable to outrun predators (lions, tigers, leopards and hyenas). The species wouldn't have survived if they weren't able to adapt to protect themselves from these predators. Rolling up in a tight ball, similar to potato bugs, the pangolin then has scales to shield them from gnashing teeth. No, the pangolin isn't a fish or reptile. It is a mammal with scales - strong, fingernail-like scales (their scales are made of keratin, the stuff your fingernails are composed of).

Another fantastic example of evolution lies in the function of the pangolin's scales. Their diet is comprised of ants and termites. When they nuzzle into a termite nest, the insects try and protect themselves by biting their predators. The pangolin's scales lift to allow the termites in (giving the termites false hope in biting) and then close, killing the termites. After their meal, the pangolin heads to water. They again lift their scales, bringing water in. The water and dead termites act as an exfoliant, cleaning and ridding the pangolin of dust and dirt.

Their taste for ants and termites is satiated by using their long tongue, similar to an anteaters, to extract their insect meal.

When reading about pangolins, who they are as a species and how they have evolved, I think of my potato bug exploring days. I would love to be able to have a night spent tracking and observing these fascinating, nocturnal pangolins much like I did with potato bugs as a child. If we continue to illegally poach and sell, I fear that little dream of mine will no longer be possible.



Actions, Reactions, and Far Reaching Effects

This is the first in a three part series about the far reaching effects of human consumption.

Growing up, my parents were always reminding me that every action deserves an equal reaction.  For the longest time, I felt that this was their own Alaskan version of the golden rule.  Boy was I surprised when I got older, attended a few science classes, and found out that they were actually stealing their motto from the wide world of physics.  Now grown up, I’m not a physicist, but I do still hold that advice as a way to view my actions in life.  Every action that each of us takes has consequences.  Every consequence is a reaction, of equal force.  The reaction may not always manifest itself in expected fashion, in fact, reactions are frequently unpredictable. 

Before I bore you by spending more time waxing nostalgic about my childhood, I’ll get to the point.  Human beings consume.  We consume virtually everything that we possibly can.  To narrow the scope, let’s talk about Americans specifically.  Due to the culture that we’ve built, Americans consume products at a rate that has been previously unheard of.  When it comes to food, resources, technology, textiles, and virtually anything new, we seem to be unable to ever get enough.  There are of course outliers and exceptions to this statement, but as a whole, it’s what we do.  The case could even be made that it has become our national identity.  We are trendsetters, builders, and devourers. 

We could debate the morality of this all day long, but that is not what we are here for.  Quite simply, all of this devouring consumption has to be supplied from somewhere.  Our consumption has far reaching effects.  It affects other humans, political systems, and parts of civilization, it affects the animals that we use for both food and product, and it affects our future on this planet.  This is something that as Americans we either choose to ignore, or just prefer to remain in blissful ignorance about.  When we offer a lip service of concern for these animals, societies, and environments, it is almost always a momentary thought.  Something that passes as quickly as our food fads, or our ability to remember how to drive in inclement weather.  When it happens, we’re interested in learning for a moment, we seem to figure it all out, and then faster than a blink, our awareness and desire for action has disappeared. 

Saving Pangolins One Step at a Time

There are multiple ways one can help to keep pangolins from becoming extinct. All 8 species at this point are likely to become extinct, the Asian species are listed as critically endangered or endangered. Pangolins rarely survive in captivity, therefore it is crucial that the areas where pangolin habitats are common be protected from illegal traffickers. Since pangolins are nocturnal and solitary creatures not much is known about their population levels or ecology which further complicates their chances of survival.

Monetary value assigned to a pangolin by different traffickers

Pangolins have become the most trafficked animal in Asia

There are many different approaches to increase the likelihood that generations to come will have this creature in the wild. Perhaps the most important is to improve the biological knowledge base so that scientist, governments, wildlife authorities, and local communities will have a better understanding of these species. It is likely that with this additional knowledge captured pangolins will have a greater chance of surviving in captivity.

Another important factor is raising awareness through education programs targeting not only to individuals but local communities and officials to ensure that pangolin habitats are protected. By maintaining a healthy balance of plants and animals in dry lowland rainforest in Harapan Rainforest local communities, government and NGOs have managed to provide a range of essential environmental services that ensure the survival of pangolins while being a source of nature-based tourism and research opportunity.

Rescue and rehability centers for pangolins are important since live animals are often confiscated from traffickers. However since pangolins are difficult to maintain in captivity the primary focus should be the prevention of removing pangolins from the wild in the first place. There are two large programs in Vietnam and Cambodia targeted at caring for rescued and injured pangolins. The Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) in Cambodia even has a special pangolin holding and breeding facility.

Pangolin_ Hunter/Hunted

Hunter _ Pangolins are carnivorous animals and their diet is fairly simple and straightforward. They are incredible ants and termites hunters. Also, larvae and a few other insects are their meals too. Their bodies have specially design to achieve high efficiency in hunt termites. They have great sense of smell for sniffing out these insects underground and their powerful front claws are perfect tool for breaking into termite colonies and scratching the surface for ant colonies. They don’t need teeth because they can use their long pink tongues to probe deep into along the termite channels. Moreover, their chests have glands to lubricate the incredible sticky and ant catching saliva long tongues. Their eyes have specially designed to protect and keep termites out while they are eating. Some pangolins that live in tree can use their amazing tail to strip away bark from the trunk to exposing insect nests inside. According to the U.S. National Park Service, it’s lucky that termites and ants still exists while one pangolin can eat 200 thousands termites per days (about 70 million per year). Without pangolin, the number of ants and termites will be fast increase and harm environment as well as human such as farming.

Hunted _ In the wild, large cat species, such as lions, leopards, tigers, and hyenas, are mainly predators that consume pangolins. However, pangolins’ self-defense is extremely strong due to their ability to roll into ball with their scales. On the other hand, a big wild dog is not biggest predator but humans. In Chinese Traditional Medicine, pangolins’ scales and body parts are believed to help a range of illnesses but there is no scientific evidence to prove it. Their meat is like chicken and their scales is like human's nail. The world and many governments urged to stop hunting and eating pangolins, and commercial trade is banned. Human is driving pangolins toward extinction with nonsense reason, so please stop eating and using pangolin.


Eat This Not Pangolins

Pangolins are a delicacy in southern and eastern Asia.

Some say it tastes better than CHICKEN.

Others claim it is SWEET and tender.

However, this peaceful, nocturnal, unique looking mammal is on the verge of extinction because we like how it tastes. Because it is illegal to poach, the price tag increases dramatically creating a black market delicacy.

Although alternatives to pangolin meat are not as exotic, I feel as though it is a small sacrifice to endure to save a species.

There are amazing dishes out there that are great alternatives to our little, scaly friends, the pangolin. We just need to be a bit more creative and resourceful in discovering new ways to prepare them.

I want to protect these little guys and have decided to post my blog on what we can eat instead (rare, expensive or not)  instead of my scaly friends.


An artichoke (it looks similar to the pangolin but is Vegan and Gluten Free)

Ways to eat: Steam, boil, bake or grill. Leaves are delicious with butter, mayo (vegan option)
Cut bottom and enjoy the delicious heart!

Chicken... it doesn't just taste like chicken, it is chicken!

Ways to eat: Baked, fried (chicken and waffles anyone?), roasted (mmm...herbs, garlic), grilled, the list goes on.

Wanting something sweet? Cakes, cookies, puddings, ice cream, chocolate, chocolate with bacon, fruit, fruit with bacon, candy, soda pop, dessert wine, cocktails, bubble gum...the list goes on and on and on.

Ways to eat: (make sure you are wearing elastic waisted pants)
Can be baked, churned, melted, grilled, microwaved, in a campfire (dutch oven cobbler anyone?).
You can socialize while eating in restaurants, cafes and bars. You will win over your boss if you gift them a pint of some specialty ice cream from Salt + Straw in Portland, Oregon.

There is no need to consume pangolins when there are so many options of delicious foods that will impress more than our endangered friend.


Pangolin _ Who are they?

Pangolins are species of mammal and nurse their young with milk. They are creatures of the night and very timid, shy, slow, and live alone or in pairs. There are eight species (some recourses said only seven species) of pangolins in Asia and Africa. Some of the species of pangolin's are arboreal, which means they live in trees, and some live in a burrow.
At birth, the young pangolins are pale and its scales become to strengthen by the next day. The babies with 6 inches longs body and 12 ounces weights is folded in their mother’s lap or rolled body. After about 4 months of nursed, the small pangolin can begins to eat young termites (about a month old) so the infant can go hunt with their mother by (perhaps) riding on their mother’s tail.
The adult pangolins have a long body, short legs and a low, small pointed head with long tail. Their upper part, from nose to tail is covered with scales, that scab layer is just form of clumps of sticky hairs. Pangolin’s cheeks, chest and belly don’t have scaly, just a little fur-lined hard and its skin of belly is soft and white. They are very good at climbing trees, living and sleep on trees or burrows. While sleep or self-defense, all pangolins are able to roll themselves into a ball; in the lower part of their tails tip with a line fastened to a flake meat back to do a curl very sure and very hard to open. Pangolins have no teeth so they use their amazingly long, muscular, and sticky tongues that are perfect for reaching and lapping up ants, termites and wood destroying insects for meals. Pangolins’ life span is unknown when they live in the wild; some unofficial reports claimed 12 years up to 20 years.
Today, deforestation and hunting pangolin are main reasons for large decrease in the numbers of pangolins around the world.


Pangolins Getting Attention

A government official releases a rescued baby pangolin into the Sumatran forest in July 2012 after Indonesian police intercepted 85 endangered pangolins.In a blog titled "The Salt" on NPR's website there was an article a few days ago about our dear friends the Pangolins. This blog is dedicated to food and why we eat what we eat. I looked back as far as year and there is not one other article that talks about people eating an animal into extinction. It made me wonder why is that? If you click the link below you can read the full blog post.

Even the New York Times is noticing the Pangolin. They published a blog stating that even though it is illegal in China to eat Pangolin and it is punishable by 10 years or more in prison poaching is still on the rise. Now that the Asian species of Pangolin are nearly extinct the African species are being poached as well. Click the link below to read the full article.



Practical Ways to Help Pangolins

There are many things you can do to take an active role in protecting pangolins. Here are several practical ways you can help:
  • Don’t eat pangolins. They are highly endangered and any consumption of pangolins encourages more illegal trafficking. In most countries, eating them or purchasing them could bring significant punishment including lengthy imprisonment. 
  • Don’t purchase pangolin products. Similar to eating pangolins, purchasing pangolin medicine, jewelry, scales, or other related products encourages the further reduction of the already endangered population.
  • Support organizations that are actively advocating for pangolins. There are many good organizations raising awareness of pangolin trafficking, doing research on pangolins, lobbying for increased protection and enforcement of anti-trafficking laws, and initiating conservation programs. There are many great organizations that exist, but here are a few notable ones:
  • Report pangolin trafficking. If you ever encounter pangolin trafficking, sale or consumption, report the illegal activity to the proper authorities. The more awareness and watchful eyes looking out for the illegal trafficking of pangolins, the more trafficking laws can be enforced and current endangered populations be protected.
  • Sign petitions and lobby government representatives. Petitions and lobbying efforts can be effective tools to increase awareness among influential individuals and to promote better pangolin conservation and anti-trafficking enforcement. Many petitions have been created on Change.org and other similar websites advocating for greater protection of pangolins. Sending letters and emails to government officials explaining the endangerment issues Pangolins are facing is another way to raise awareness among influential people. It helps those in leadership positions realize that this is an issue of great concern to the general public and that it should be seriously considered in future policy changes.
  • Help spread awareness of pangolin trafficking. Raising awareness in your social sphere of influence is a simple and effective way of helping pangolins. Share articles you read about pangolins on social media, with your friends and family. Follow pangolin conservation news sources and share the latest updates with others. Raising awareness of this issue is extremely important as it has brought more attention from policy makers, researchers, and conservationists. This in turn brings the change needed in order to protect the survival of pangolins in the future.

Pangolins: Advocating for a Marginalized Animal

Pangolins, which look much like scaly anteaters, are a rare mammal located Asia and Africa.  Within the last two decades, it has been estimated by the Pangolin Specialist Group that pangolin populations have fallen by 80%, and within the last decade, over 1,000,000 pangolins have been illegally poached (Mongabay).  Traffickers often sell pangolins to use their scales for traditional medicine and their meat as a delicacy meal.

Seized pangolin corpses from a recent raid on a trafficking ring.
(Photo : Z. X. Zhang via Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit)

Although pangolins have been placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species and trafficking has been made illegal in many countries, pangolin trafficking remains a rampant issue in many countries.  This excessive and senseless poaching is quickly leading to their extinction.  Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Program Director at the Zoological Society of London said of pangolin trafficking, "In the 21st Century we really should not be eating species to extinction—there is simply no excuse for allowing this illegal trade to continue” (Mongabay).    Even though the pangolin is a small, little known animal of seemingly minimal significance, it is a precious creature that we are in grave danger of losing forever at the hand of humans.  

(Photo by Bjorn Olesen/TRAFFIC)
It is our responsibility as part of the global community to do whatever we can to stop the extinction of this rare animal.  Losing an entire species of any kind would be a devastating loss to the world we live in.  We must be willing to fight just as fervently for less popular animals, like pangolins, as we would for more popular animals like tigers or rhinoceroses.  When it comes to the preservation of our world’s species, they all hold equal value.  If we are able to work together to prevent the elimination of the most marginalized animals, perhaps there will be hope for other endangered species as well.  

To find ways you can get involved today in the fight to save pangolins from illegal trafficking and extinction, please visit these websites:

Pangolin consumption: Let's not seal the deal

Imagine you finally received the news that the very important, high paying business deal you're involved in is about to close. This deal could make you far wealthier than you already are. What can you do to to make certain that these individuals want to sign the deal? After sending a quick message to your co-workers, you begin researching where to eat that night (at least you can spend a bit on that on some delicious foie gras). Your phone buzzes. Another member of your team involved in the deal tells you little else besides the time and location of your next meal and to bring A LOT of cash. 

You show up to the said restaurant and are greeted by a waitress who escorts you to your table in the back of the restaurant. You are told to turn to the last page where the "wild animal" meat section beckons your cash to be spent. A picture of a scaly, ant-eater looking creature stares back at you. This is no duck, pig or fish. Nothing prepared you for the price the waitress quotes when you enquire: $350/kilo with a minimum order of 5 kilos. That's $1,750 just for your meat, let alone the meat of the other five people you are in charge of paying! Surely, this will impress enough to seal the deal. However, you're curiosity beckons you to do a quick Google search of what this creature is and why it's so expensive. After clicking a few times, you stumble upon this article:


This "delicacy" is endangered, on the verge of extinction. Ah, no wonder it comes at such a high price. You excuse yourself and go to the restroom to read more. Article after article highlights the pangolin as the victim of illegal poaching and black market selling. Your moral compass dings a blaring warning signal that you should not participate in this meal. What if the deal doesn't go through because you choose not to participate or you simply excuse yourself from the gathering? What if you create a stir about the illegal activity it took to create a meal like this? What to do...

Pangolins will not survive if situations like this continue to occur. The demand to display wealth through the consumption of this meat will never stop until these animals are extinct. For me, the only way I see pangolins surviving is if there is a movement to change the minds of consumers. Learning ways to alter consumers' views on consumption of this gentle mammal become the only way to ensure the pangolin's survival.
Quoting from the article,

"The action is on the demand side, which is much trickier: Getting governments to sign a popular treaty is easy; changing the behavior of millions of status-conscious consumers is much harder. But it's not impossible."

Let's find a way to make this change.

Poaching Pangolins, Studying Pangolins

One of the most extraordinarily mysterious creatures on Earth is the pangolin, a scaly clawed mammal found in Asia and Africa. Unfortunately, there are two very sad truths about these animals: they are in danger of going completely extinct due to poaching for illegal wildlife trade, and there is very little known about them and their involvement in the illegal wildlife trade. These are serious issues to have hand in hand, because until experts and conservationists have the information they need, they cannot adequately protect the pangolins from the ongoing threat of poaching.

For the past 15-20 years, most of the poaching activity has been in Asia, with the Chinese pangolin and Malayan pangolin being the most threatened. Pangolins are poached and illegally shipped dead and alive disguised with other scaly animals such as snakes and lizards, and then find their way through secret means to the Chinese black market and several restaurants across China and Vietnam where they are prepared and presented as a luxurious delicacy. Asian species of pangolin have experienced a tremendous loss of population over the past decade, at almost 25%. Half of these species are already classifies as endangered, while some experts have claimed that certain species may actually already be extinct. For this reason, conservationists have been seeing an increase in poaching African pangolins. If measures are not taken to combat this issue, we will undoubtedly begin to see the same population loss in African species. Increased law enforcement and stronger penalties for offenders will help the problem of poaching, but it is not enough. Further research is needed for conservationists to better approach means of protection.

Pangolins.org, a site which advocates for the protection of pangolins, states “One of the biggest challenges in pangolin conservation is that we know very little about these secretive, elusive creatures.” The Asian Malayan pangolin, for example has only had one research study published. This is a serious problem because in order for conservationists to carry out plans and policies to protect these endangered animals, they need to know more about their population size, reproduction, general ecology, as well as their involvement in black market trade. Currently, pangolins in conservation captivities experience a 71% or higher mortality rate during their first year of life in captivity. More information about the pangolin’s ecology may greatly aid in better management of these animals. In addition, increased knowledge about the pangolins way of life and habitat can help conservationists identify situations in which pangolins are more vulnerable to poaching, and can then safely capture pangolins, to later release back into the wild.

More research is needed in order to effectively fight against the heartbreaking problem of poaching pangolins, one of the most interesting animals on Earth. Pangolins.org gravely puts it, “If current trends continue in the face of limited knowledge about their population size, reproduction, and general ecology, this species could spiral completely out of existence within the next ten years.

To learn more about the need for more research and steps being taken now to fight the illegal trade of pangolins, visit these helpful websites:

Pangolins: Eight Species, All in Danger

The pangolin is a small mysterious creature with scales, a long nose, and big claws. There are eight species of pangolin: four Asian species and four African species. One of the unfortunate common characteristic among these eight species of pangolin is that they are all in danger of being drove to extinction. Currently, the four Asian species of pangolin are in the most danger, due to the fact that the largest demand for pangolin meat and scales comes from China and Vietnam. However, conservationists are already seeing an increase in pangolin poaching in Africa as a response to the decreasing numbers of pangolins left in Asia.

First of the four Asian species of pangolin is the Chinese, or “Formosan” pangolin (Manis pentadactyla.) This species has been classified Critically endangered, and is one of the most sought out species of pangolin in the traditional Chinese medicine market. While these animals were once known to be very abundant as recently as the 1980’s, they are now extremely rare and highly endangered. The second species of Asian pangolin is the Malayan, or “Sunda” (Manis javanica.) This pangolin is much like the Chinese pangolin, but much less information is known about them. The Malayan pangolin has been classified Critically Endangered, but only one study on them has been published. The third and fourth species of Asian pangolin are the Indian, or “thick-tailed” pangolin (manis crassicaudata,) and the Philippine or “Palawan” pangolin (manis culionesis.) Little is known of these two species, but they are both classified as Endangered.

The “Tree” or African white-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis) is the first of the African pangolin species. It has been classified as Vulnerable, and is the fourth harvested species across 47 African sites. While the tree pangolin may be the most common African forest species, experts and conservationists believe that their endangerment status should be updated to reflect their significant decline in population over the past decade, at nearly 25%. The second species of African pangolin is the Giant ground pangolin (Smutsia gigantea.) Named for its size, this pangolin can reach lengths of up to six feet, and up to 73 pounds! Like the Tree pangolin, the Giant ground pangolin is also classified as Vulnerable and has also experienced a nearly 25% decrease in population in the last 15 years. The third and fourth species of African pangolin are the Cape, or “Temminck’s” ground pangolin (Manis temminckii,) and the Long-tailed or black-bellied pangolin (Uromanis tetradactyla.) These two species are classified as Vulnerable.

To learn more about the eight species of pangolin, and what is being done to protect and conserve them, take a look at these helpful websites:

Delicacy or Endangered Species?

I came upon this article on NPR and while my logical brain can process the information about the current state of survival of the species I found it very hard not to be emotional.
Would you eat a small animal that does you no harm? Would you eat a dog? A feral cat? Where is the line between food as means for survival versus delicacy? These are ethical dilemmas that my Western brain has hard time processing.
Pangolins have become luxury food like shark fin driven by both its rarity and uniqueness. In Traditional Chinese Medicine pangolins it was the scales of pangolins that were seen as cure for various conditions, for reducing swelling and boosting lactation. In modern days it is the thought of “wild meat” that is driving the demand for pangolins. Pangolin meat has become a traditional meal served during business meals by large corporations.
Trade of pangolins is banned in China yet pangolins are imported as far as Indonesia and Africa to satisfy the demand in China. Serving a dish with pangolin meat is seen as status symbol to show that the restaurant is above the law. In a paper published in 2011 the numbers are overwhelming - 24 tons of pangolins were seized between 2006 and 2009. Once can only imagine the scale of the actual impact on pangolin population.

Next Stop Extinction

Next Stop Extinction. 

Reading about Pangolins and their current state is only the beginning. People need to act, YOU need act, WE need to act. Showing your support is as easy as spreading the word. Take what you have learned from our blog and the links you followed and tell your friends and family. The more people that know, the greater chance we have to help save this mammal from extinction.

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The Eight Species of Pangolins

There are eight species of pangolins in the world. Four species live in Asia and the other four live in Africa. The Asian species of pangolins are the Chinese pangolin, Sunda pangolin, Indian pangolin and the Philippine pangolin. These four Asian species are the most endangered of the eight. The Chinese and Sunda pangolins are labeled critically endangered and the Indian and Philippine pangolins are not too far behind labeled endangered (savepangolins.org). The other four species live in Africa are the cape or Temminck’s ground pangolin, white bellied or tree pangolin, the giant ground pangolin and the black-bellied or long tailed pangolin. A few weeks ago African pangolins were labeled “least concern” now recently updated to vulnerable on the red list (The Guardian).  Why the sudden change one may ask? The poaching that happens in Asia for pangolins has expanded into Africa do to the high demand of scales, meat, and medicine that pangolins are known for. The trade between Africa and Asia for the endangered species is increasing (national geographic) and with that the population of African pangolins is decreasing moving them farther up on the endangered species list. Soon there will be no beautiful pangolins left which is all the more reason to put an end to poaching pangolins.

Asian Pangolins have small thick hairs that emerge between there scales and African pangolins do not. (National Geographic).