World Pangolin Day on February 20 is an opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts to create awareness of pangolins, which are on the brink of extinction. The population of the shy and harmless mammal of the order of Pholidota are decreasing at an alarming rate, according to Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Visakhapatnam Range, Anantha Shankar.
Pangolins are nature’s pest controllers since they survive solely on termites and ants. In 2016, the International Nature for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classified all the eight species of pangolins from “threatened” to “critically endangered”, the DFO said. The Indian Pangolin can be spotted in and around Visakhapatnam. Pangolins scales are made up of Keratin, which are supposedly used by the Chinese for medicinal purposes to cure cancer and heart diseases, the DFO said. “However, research has proven that it is nothing, but a myth,” he explained.
The DFO explained that the Forest department caught several poachers and saved three pangolins. “Two injured pangolins were rescued and tended to before leaving them in the wild in August and September 2020,” Shankar Said. Pangolins have a large muscular tail and are covered with armor-like overlapping scales that protect them when they are they are threatened. When a pangolin is threatened or attacked, it coils up and emits an unpleasant smell or climbs trees. Pangolins live deep in the ground, their burrowing nature is a reason why they are difficult to catch or study. They are also nocturnal and solitary mammals.
City-based environmental groups, East Coast Conservations Team (ECCT) and Green Paw, Wildlife expert Pranav Tamarapalli explained that the mammals are inexplicably tortured in the name of fake medicinal values. “It is quite cruel. Local awareness should be increase regarding pangolins so that the public can help rescue them or promptly inform the officials,” he said. Indira Gandhi Zoological Park curator Nandani Salaria said World Pangolin day is a chance to educate everyone regarding the behavioral characteristics of the pangolins. A seminar, on the same issue, is being conducted for school students. Meanwhile, the ECCT is conducting an online quiz, forms for which will be released on their social media handles on February 20. Prizes and certificates will be given.