World Wildlife Day Wisdom Series (3 of 8)Begin
When threatened, pangolins roll up into a ball, protected by their armor of tough "scales," which are actually made up of the same material as human fingernails and hair - keratin.
False! Despite the appearance of their scales on the outside of their body - similar to how a snake or crocodile looks - pangolins are in fact mammals, producing milk and giving birth to live young.
There are eight species of pangolin in total. Four of the species are found in Africa, while the other four are found in Asia.
False! This is a trick question, as pangolins actually have no teeth! Instead, they ‘chew’ with gravel and spines located inside their stomach. As they eat, they also swallow small rocks that smash against the ants, termites, and other insects in their stomach, helping in digestion.
Illegal wildlife trafficking has become the biggest threat to pangolins, which are taken from the wild to feed demand in China and Vietnam for their meat and scales. Solitary and nocturnal, they roll up into a ball when threatened - making them all too easy for poachers to catch.
It's true! Over the past decade, over a million pangolins have been illegally taken from the wild to feed demand in China and Vietnam.
False! As with other wildlife parts illegally traded - such as tiger bone or bear gall bladder - no such medicinal properties in pangolin scales have been scientifically proven to exist.
Populations of Asian pangolins are estimated to have declined by up to 80% in the last 10 years. Despite all eight pangolin species in Asia and Africa being protected under national and international laws, illegal trade continues. As pangolins become harder to find in the wild, traders are increasingly looking to Africa to meet the growing demand.
Pangolins are not the only species at risk. Countless other animal and plant species depend on natural spaces to thrive yet are losing their habitats and the biodiversity within them at an alarming and unprecedented rate. Add your voice to call on world leaders to take urgent action to protect and restore nature.