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What is a Pangolin

There are millions of animals in the world.  Most of these animals are pretty well known, the average dog or cat; however, some are very mysterious, and not many people know about them.  These creatures range from many different parts of the world, like the deep sea to the sky, and they are all exciting.  One very unknown creature is the pangolin.  This essay will talk about how fascinating a pangolin is, in addition to why it is going extinct.

            The pangolin is a super particular animal that looks like a reptile but is a mammal. To get started, one fun fact about these creatures is that pangolins are the only mammals in the world covered in scales.  They are covered in hard, keratin scales that protect them from predators.  They are also nocturnal animals, sleeping during the day and being awake at night.  One way that pangolins find food and escape from predators is by burrowing into the group with their sharp claws.  They are considered a cousin to an anteater because of their long, sticky tongues extending up to 40 centimeters to catch ants and termites.  Despite their best efforts to protect themselves, pangolins are no match for humans.  These creatures are primarily found in Asia and Africa and are frequently seen for their scales. 

            Humans have made pangolins the most trafficked mammal in the world.  This is because of their scales and meat--which is considered a.  Although their meat is eaten frequently, it is also used for medicine and folk remedies.  Every year, over 100,000 pangolins are poached and put into bags to be sold to the highest bidder.  This trade has greatly profited humans but has dramatically reduced the pangolin species.  Before we knew it, these incredible creatures could disappear forever!

            These creatures belong to the order Pholidota which means “scaled-covered” in Greek--which is quite fitting!  They are nocturnal animals that prefer to live in solidarity.  These creatures are considered “little anteaters” because of their 40-centimeter tongue, which can reach into ant and termite holes to eat them.  These animals also have a particular walk--their hind legs and tail support their weight while their front claws curl inward to protect their scales.  This stature makes it easy for a pangolin to roll into a tight ball to protect itself from predators! 

            Despite this ability to protect themselves, because of the severe hunting that these creatures face, all eight pangolins have been classified as being threatened with extinction.  This sad fact is something that is slowly changing.  The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has formally banned the trade of pangolins.  In addition to this company, in June 2020, China increased protection for the native Chinese Pangolin to a very high level, significantly lowering the consumption of these animals. On top of that, the government will no longer allow the use of pangolin scales in traditional medicine; this is a fantastic law because over 195,000 pangolins were trafficked in 2019.  

            Humans are also the perpetrator of destroying pangolin habitats.  Deforestation and habitat loss threaten pangolins almost as much as being trafficked.  Also, climate change is a massive factor in the changing of their habitats.  These factors can make it difficult for these animals to find food or water because of how quickly the environment changes.

            All of these terrible factors lead to the pangolin species slowly declining.  It would make sense for zoos and conservations to take part in helping pangolins gain back their lives; however, pangolins are impossible to keep in zoos. When kept in zoos, pangolins have a mortality rate of up to 70% in one year.  This is because when captured, these creatures get highly stressed and confused, and so they stop eating and drinking, which ultimately leads to their death.  

In conclusion, these interesting-looking animals face significant threats daily.  Their unique features help them survive against animal predators, but they do not help protect them against humans.  This sad fact makes it easy for pangolins to be captured and sold to the highest bidder.  Despite many efforts to preserve these creatures, pangolins are still being poached and sold through the black market.  Measures to protect pangolins and their habitats are essential to ensure their survival, and by writing this article I wanted to share information about pangolins. 

Edited by: Whitney 

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