Saving pangolins

When we talk about wildlife trafficking, we most often think of iconic animals like elephants, rhinos and big cats – and saving these animals is undeniably urgent. But very few people know that the most heavily trafficked mammal in the world is a mysterious little creature called the pangolin, or "the scaly anteater."  Pangolins are covered in a thick scaly exterior that provides them with protection against most predators, but this tough exterior is no match for the sophisticated and deadly poaching techniques being used by their worst enemy, humans.

Pangolins are most often poached for their scales, which contain the same material found in rhino horn, keratin.  Keratin is used in many folk remedies, and in addition to rhino horn, it is also found in fingernails and hair, making the demand for it from pangolins (or rhinos, for that matter) completely unnecessary.  Populations of pangolins are hard to track, due to their nocturnal nature, but they are absolutely on a crash course with extinction if we do not act soon. 

Pangolins are one of 12 animals covered in the Save Endangered Animals Oregon ballot measure, and one of 12 reasons we all need to support it in November.

Tina Arth

Southwest Portland