Pangolin Videos

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Stop Eating Pangolins

What happens when the last pangolin is gone? Then what are you going to eat?  Give it up, and teach poachers to be smart.  Have them take up jungle survival, teach tourists how to survive in the wild, and show them the creatures alive! This, you can pass on to your children, and their children's children, and so on.

Balin, the rescued baby pangolin, covered in ants.
When you eat these creatures, or sell them to people who eat them, forests, and people on the other side of the world suffer. Is that something you want your children to know, that you ate or sold the last pangolin? That your appetite created a  non sustainable livelihood. Without the pangolin, an overabundance of ants and termites will over run the forests, which are already disappearing from logging and development. They will be gone soon, very soon and then what you substitute it with, that also has an end and tragic consequence.

Those of you who are eating pangolins, also known as the scaly anteater, or if you know someone who eats them, please tell them they are eating a creature very important to the environment. The scales do not have any medicinal value and there are so many better and effective plant alternatives.

Last week alone, 8,000 pangolins were found killed and processed. The pangolin is a gentle creature, it doesn't even have any teeth. Adult pangolins eat at least 70 million pests like ants and termites every year. This is not a good time in the world to be doing this, the world is in peril, all of us are in peril and we are doing it to ourselves.

We need to educate the end consumers as to what they are doing to the planet for the sake of their tastebuds. We need to re-educate the poachers and teach them a sustainable way to make a living. People fly from all over the world to see live Tarsiers in Cebu, and the whale shark in Donsol. Why can't we retrain poachers to be forest guides and jungle survival teachers, and people can pay to see live animals instead. It may not make as much in the beginning, but it will be a more lasting job.

Palawan people should be proud of the pangolin and not take it for granted. A friend ran into two chaps recently, who boasted of eating them, saying there are so many of them....this will not be true very soon. Please tell people of the plight of the pangolin.

Here is a video I made to teach people the value of the pangolin. Please take a moment to watch it. I haven't really done one before, but for the pangolin, I try. Please feel free to share it.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Pangolin -also a forest gardener

I have been thinking of little Balin, the Palawan pangolin of late, since his kind have become one of the most endangered on the planet due to illegal wildlife trade for their meat and scales. I am glad that they are in the news so that hopefully, a lot so people will stop eating them.
Balin making much for tender young sprouts below on the ground.
I want to share this one last thing about him. I will always be so very grateful to have known such a gentle and marvelously important creature.

In our forest in Palawan, I watched one of these gentle creatures digging into very hard earth, so hard I had trouble breaking clumps apart with my knife. This little gardener dug with no problem and I watched a seed fall where he dug and as he dug for ants, so did this seed get buried; only to await the next rain so it would grow. Later he dug into a huge fallen tree...he tore through the bark and it crumbled to the ground into hundreds of tiny pieces and I saw a young seedling be covered with this mulch to protect the moisture in the soil so it would have a chance at becoming a tree. One cloudy night the full moon peeked out from behind a cloud, Balin sat on his haunches and had his paws together as he looked up at it, it looked like he was praying.

When I went back to where he had dug into the tree trunk months later, I noticed that the plants he mulched while foraging for termites, had flourished and grown, while those he did not mulch, shriveled and died.

These creatures are the gardeners of the forest as well as the controllers of the insects that would eat at all the plants that abound there. Balin, the little orphaned pangolin in Palawan taught me so much of its role in our forest as I walked with it while it foraged early evening till late at night for 2 months; when sated it would crawl up my leg to be brought back to it's safe lair. It must be so with all pangolins, the gentle forest garden wizards, silently doing the job allotted them with none the wiser.

They go about their job skillfully in the dark of night, so none might see the magic they do. For this they are rewarded with genocide, because they will not defend themselves by aggression, they passively curl up into a ball and let their armor protect them. Alas, it does not protect them from us humans.

Please teach all that can make a difference of the importance of these gentle little wizards of the forest. Who knows how many things will cease to grow without them. What trees are destroyed in any country they exist, will affect the global warming of the earth and affect us all.

Trafficked pangolin curry in Indonesia. Credit: TRAFFIC
These wonderful and harmless creatures are being harvested at EPIC and non sustainable proportions. This is what becomes of them. Help stop the madness.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

He wanted his freedom

Goodbye Balin. Thank you for
teaching me about your kind. I'll
always treasure your time with us.
It has taken me a few days to post this last report as I have been very sad and yet hopeful. On June 15, Balin got out of the cage and has not come back since.  I am sad because I would have wished to release him when he was bigger and in a less populated area. Happy he has gotten his freedom to be a wild creature for a bit. But now I will never know what happened to him. We are new too many people who will do it harm, either by poaching and selling to illegal wildlife traders for meat or by the locals eating it.

The pangolin is one of the most poached animals in Palawan. It has no teeth and curls up into a ball when scared. That is it's only defense. Even though it has very sharp claws it never uses them for defensive purposes, only to dig in hard mud and rotten trees and such.  When captured they are usually sent to China for exotic meat and they also grind up the scales for their traditional medical, though it's effectiveness is not proven and with today's pharmaceutical technology, I am sure there is something else like a plant to do the same without killing nature's natural pest control. They eat only primarily ants and termites and also grubs of beetles and other such insect.

These are the last shots I got of him. It was the dearest, sweetest creature I have ever had the privilege to rescue and care of. He was so gentle. I do pray he has not been captured and that he will remain free as long as possible. God speed dear Balin and may the angels of earth watch over you. I miss you so much and fear for you. You're human mommy for a bit.

The little pangolin weighed only 700 grams and was 29.9 centimeters from head to anus, and tail length was 22 cms. when last we took the measurements in June. Still just a little guy.
We will never know if Balin is alive and well or if he got injured. This makes me so sad as we had planned on releasing him when he grew larger and putting a tracker on him, then releasing him in a less populated area.
This is young bamboo, looking so much like a pangolin it would fake me out thinking it was Balin until I realized it wasn't moving.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Will to live

Still steadfast in his quest to find his food on his own. Even after having fallen down a hill into a creek and then off a bridge into the creek a second time. He just kept going for 2 1/2 hours on the property until he finally tired and crawled up his guardians leg. He was then brought back into the animal enclosure for the night where thankfully, he stayed.

For the last two nights Balin has gotten out of the animal enclosure (AE). Pre-dawn, about 5 AM, two mornings ago, Dave spotted it coming from the opposite direction of the enclosure... trundling home in it's awkward fashion. It had found a way out and had been foraging on it's own all night and was heading straight towards the enclosure.

Last night I went down to see it and it was gone by 10 PM. It had been taken out to forage earlier by his caregiver Rj and put back when he had his fill for awhile. I suspected it wasn't getting enough to eat since in the wild they probably would forage for awhile and rest then forage some more.  I decided to leave the latch open  in the enclosure so it could push the door open rather than have to crawl around to his bolt hole. When I got up this morning the door what open baby pangolin sized and he was in his sleeping basin. What a relief. I hardly slept a wink worrying about how he might go in the road and get run over!

It's growing and needs more food than previously. Plus, I had been told by a pangolin researcher that the babies his organization cared for grew faster.  It's very hard for us to harvest as many ants as it can eat in a day.  We lack the proper facilities to supply it with its own freezer harvested ants and termites for the rainy season which just hit tonight it seems. Quite the downpour.

The approximately 3 month old pangolin squeezed almost his entire body into the bamboo pole.

Today, we think we got the weak spot in the enclosure fixed, or so we think. I decided to go ahead and let it out when it was time to be fed as opposed to being carried to the spots to eat, I just followed where it wanted to go on it's own. It went straight for the bamboo groves where it has been taken for 2 months now. It immediately found a rotting bamboo pole that he had previously scavenged and it literally almost crawled all the way inside of it. The ants had rebuilt their nest inside the next chamber. I was so amazed that it was able to squeeze his spiny body inside. I thought we might have to help extricate him.  We didn't. He made his way out fine on his own. This creature amazes me.

I had serious doubts it could get out on it's own so I told Jhun to be prepared to help break open the pole.
The little scaly anteater that could! This little guy has such a will to live. He only weight 700 grams now after two months of staying with us. He is only, including tail, 47 centimeters long. Not including tail 25.5 centimeters in body length

Amazing where he can stick that pointed head of his.
This is the first night in 2 months it has not been carried out to eat and assisted in finding the food. Tonight for 2 1/2 hours it wandered on it's own and found it's own food. I noticed it had a lot more perseverance in sticking to one area now that he's had to work at finding his own food. When he was carried in between spot to spot he had a tendency to turn his nose up, as it were, if he didn't want an ant at that moment, or that particular kind of ant. I noticed tonight that he stayed a long time at the food he found on his own and didn't exhibit his picky behaviour at all.

When it had it's fill of the ants inside the first bamboo pole tonight, it wandered up the hill by the creek and then down a bit. We heard this splash,  it had fallen into the creek. It just righted itself, swam a bit and headed back up the hill again.  It crossed the bamboo bridge to get across the creek, leaned over and fell in again. Kersplash! No problem. It swam upstream a foot or so and began his ascent back up the opposite bank and another bamboo grove known by him to be particularly infested with several varieties of ants. He's just so determined to survive. If he survives us caring for him, he can survive anything as we have been flying by the seats of our pants.

He has no problem and frequently finds ant nests in the cut bamboo stumps.

He's done with this hole for the night.
Balin's alternate guardian. Instead of carrying the anteater to it's prey, tonight we let him wander off on his own with Jhun trailing behind him to watch and see where it went. When it was brought back to it's cage there was a big termite mound waiting for it. It snacked some more on it and then slept the rest of the night. It didn't attempt to get out the rest of the night.

Moving on to greener pastures as it were.

As I write this, I can hear Jhun pounding on a termite mound they found earlier, to break it open so that later, Balin can feed on it back inside the safety of the enclosure. Hopefully tonight with the food inside, it will not have to find a way outside to eat more. We can't afford a dedicated person to just follow it all night. Tonight Jhun said when it had it's fill, it found him and crawled up his leg to rest. He then took it back to the enclosure.

It's raining quite hard outside and of course I fear the rain will wash away his scent trail back home. I do hope I am wrong if he does manage to get out again.

Here is the video of him at dusk when he first left his enclosure to forage on his own without any help from his guardian.