The Pangolin

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There is a growing concern about the use of endangered and threatened animals used for traditional medicine and luxury food as population numbers of many species have rapidly declined due to poaching. Despite a huge amount of funding being invested in enforcement and anti-poaching measures in order to tackle the poaching issues, many species are on the path to extinction. The pangolin being one of these animals as they are the most illegally trafficked mammal in the world being ruthlessly hunted and sold as luxury food and used for traditional medicine. It is crucial that enforcement efforts are intensified although this will probably eventually prove to be an ineffective long term strategy when attempting to conserve high-valued species. The…show more content…
They are found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and Asia, south of the Sahara in Africa and in southern and south eastern Asia including Thailand, India, southern China, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, the Malay Peninsula and many other islands. They inhabit a range of habitats including forests, grasslands, rainforests, open country, bushes, steppes and shrubby slopes, areas that also inhabit ants and termites (Atkins, 2004). There are a total of 8 species of pangolin, 4 found in Africa and 4 in Asia. These include the Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyle), sunda pangolin (Manis javanica), Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis), Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata), cape pangolin (Smutsia temminckii), giant ground pangolin (Smutsia gigantean), tree pangolin (Phantaginus tricuspis) and long tailed pangolin (Uromanis tetradactyla). Pangolins have small sized tapered heads with small eyes and depending on the species the ears are either rudimentary or absent. They also have a usually long tongue which is unattached from the hyoid bone and extends past the pharynx deep into the thorax much like the giant anteater. They have the ability to extend their elongated tongues up to 40 centimetres to catch ants and termites. One of the most noticeable characteristics of pangolins which make up 20% of their weight is their large, overlapping,…show more content…
However, while most species spend most of the day curled up in a ball asleep, the long-tailed pangolin is active (Mondadori, 1988). For defensive purposes the pangolin can roll into a ball using its scaled body as protective armour. In addition to that they can also expel a noxious smell from a gland near the anus which is similar to the spray of a skunk and ward of predators. Pangolins are primarily solitary animals meeting other only to mate. They will typically mate once a year during the summer and autumn months. During the time males will mark their territory with urine or faeces to attract females. Males will also use their tales to fight each other if there is any competition over a female. Male pangolins are much larger weighing 40% more than females (Grosshuesch, 2012). The gestation period ranges from 70-140 days which differs depending on the species. The African pangolin species will typically give birth to a single offspring where as the species found in Asia will give birth to 1-3 offspring (Mondadori, 1988). Mothers will protect and nurse its offspring in a burrow during its vulnerable stage. At around 1 month old the offspring’s scales will have hardened and they will leave the burrow for the first time on its mothers back. Around 3-4 months of age weaning will begin and they will start to eat insects and at around 2 years of age pangolins will be

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