I’m not sure I even knew there was such an animal until this week, when my Facebook friend Alix from Perth, Western Australia, posted a picture of one. Then just today, my friend Rita posted a picture on Facebook of an armadillo. I thought they had similarities to the pangolin, but as it turns out, not so much.
A pangolin climbing a tree. Here’s another one.
They are very cute. They curl up into a ball when they sleep. Here’s a picture of two baby pangolins sleeping.
Pangolins are found mostly in Africa and parts of southeast Asia. As described in the article to follow, this is due to the fact that their meat is used for food and medicines in these areas, and their scaly skin is used in clothing. It’s forbidden to hunt or trade them, but they are served openly in restaurants. Similar to lobsters, they are kept alive until a restaurant customer orders one.
So brace yourselves. This is a picture of two pangolins who have been de-scaled and are awaiting cooking. Needless to say, the de-scaling process kills them. In the restaurants mentioned in the last paragraph, the pangolins are apparently boiled with the scales on, so that customers can keep the scales. Kind of like finding a pearl in an oyster.
As horrifying as this is, I can no longer blame people for eating whatever they can get their hands on. I do have problems when that eating is not out of necessity. When it is a “delicacy”. When it is eaten for the thrill factor. I would rather see the species survive than eat it, or see other people eat it. And I have the luxury of declining to eat endangered or threatened species. (And frankly, there are a lot of species that are not threatened that I won’t eat either–like squirrels. And alligators. And grasshoppers.)
I hate it that whales are killed, but the Inuit depend on whales to survive. It isn’t like you can raise cattle in the Arctic. So what would you have them do? Sit there while we ship them beef?
For more about pangolins and their cute little selves, here is the article I took much of my information from.