Last year, a young Sunda pangolin wandered its way into a small village near the Khlong Nakha Wildlife Sanctuary, a protected area in southern Thailand, where the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has been conducting wildlife surveys. For the vast majority of the Thai population, finding an animal like this would mean a potentially massive sum of money due to the illegal wildlife trade routes.
But this lucky little pangolin’s fate was different.
The fact that the man who found the lost creature was a father saved the pangolin’s life. The man’s young son convinced him not only to protect the vulnerable pangolin, but also to get in touch with ZSL, ensuring that it was rescued by people who were knowledgeable about the species and really cared.
Had his father chosen to turn the pangolin over to illegal traffickers, he could have gained a potential fortune for his family. A single pangolin is worth up to a full year’s wages due to the high demand for the meat and scales.
In Vietnam the animals are considered a delicacy and can be sold for as much as $350 a kilo for a meal. Pangolin scales are also highly valued in China because they are said to have certain medicinal properties – a widespread belief despite the fact that they’re made of the same material as human fingernails and hair.
Giving up that amount of money at his son’s request must have been an incredibly difficult choice. But the boy had a good heart, and a much broader picture in mind. The education ZSL and other conservation groups had provided about this special creature convinced the boy, who helped his father make the decision to save the pangolin’s life and put him back where he belonged.
ZSL immediately deemed the little pangolin healthy enough to return back into the wild near a ranger station, allowing it to avoid a horrible fate in the illegal wildlife trade industry. The pangolin probably never knew he owed his life to one little boy who had seen the positive influence of animal conservation around him.
This story of successful rescue is highly unusual, and the polar opposite of what happens to tens of thousands of pangolins from Asia and Africa. Currently they are believed to be one of the most illegally trafficked animals on the planet. The most conservative estimates say that over 10,000 pangolins are illegally trafficked every single year.
The Sunda pangolin is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN, and all pangolin species are threatened with extinction. Yet these animals are still being poached relentlessly, and without proper education about the situation, the people living in the countries where they are found would rather turn them in for money than keep them safe from harm.
GreaterGood.org’s Project Peril is dedicated to saving species, like the pangolin, that are in critical danger and need serious help from humans in order to keep sustainable and healthy populations.
GreaterGood.org’s Project Peril gives the public a chance to join with GreaterGood.org and its partners to curb wildlife crime against pangolins. We’re supporting efforts to improve monitoring and data about pangolin seizures and market demand, increase conservation efforts, and help with rehabilitation and reintroduction of the species.
To learn more about the project, and about how you can help, click below!
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