Pangolins, a shy, scaly creature are amongst the world’s most trafficked mammal. In the last decade, nearly one million pangolins have been poached.
Depending on their species they feed on ants and termites that fall prey to their long tongues.
These tiny creatures appear in eight different species and are mostly nocturnal. Four species seen in Africa are; Black-bellied pangolin, White-bellied pangolin, Giant Ground pangolin and Temminck's Ground pangolin
Four other species are located in Asia. They are; Indian pangolin, Philippine pangolin, Sunda pangolin and the Chinese pangolin.
While the scales are their most unique and noticable feature, it also has its drawbacks. It infact poses as a threat to them. So much so that the scales of pangolins are used in more than 500 prescriptions in traditional Chinese medicine. These scales help in curing anorexia, sores, skin infections, treating infertility and promoting lactation.
As per the Wildlife Justice Commission findings, Vietnam is now the highest recipient of pangolin scales. Trafficking, transporting, killing, and trading pangolins even for medicine is illegal in Vietnam.
Here are some lesser known facts about Pangolin scales;
The scales cover their entire body including the tail while acting as a fifth limb to support its body. It helps them manoeuvre while climbing a tree
They scales are made of keratin just like human fingernails. They also account for 20% of their entire body weight
The young ones are born with soft scales that naturally harden over the course of two days of birth
The mammal is covered with scales except for its belly which is covered with soft hair
The number of scales on the pangolin’s body varies in species and sizes. A Sunda Pangolin possess scales ranging from approximately 900 to 1000