Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

The most adorable artichoke

Pangolin and baby

This photo was taken by Maria Diekmann from REST. (Boix, 2013)

Living in the wilds of Africa and Asia is a reclusive and often unseen group of species. These species all fall under one generic name: Pangolin. The Pangolin is a rather unusual looking creature, their appearance being likened to that of an artichoke, but just what exactly is a Pangolin?

Pangolins are nocturnal hunters, their diet comprising almost exclusively of ants and termites which they dig up using long curved claws. Their back and sides are covered in overlapping scales that protect them from predators, while their underbellies are covered in fur.

Pangolins have long tails that can be used for climbing. Their claws also allow them to swim. When on land some species of Pangolin also walk on around on their back legs, which some people say makes them look like a tiny little T-rex, an adorable T-rex.

Despite their scaly appearance, Pangolins are very cute. They have no teeth, instead the ants and termites they eat are crushed by projections in their stomachs.

Because of their poor eyesight, Pangolins find their prey using their sense of smell. Though their diet and appearance are similar to that of anteaters and armadillos, they are actually closer related to cats, dogs and other carnivores (Save Pangolins, 2016).

The Pangolin is such a cute and important animal, however, they are currently considered to be critically endangered. This is mostly due to the illegal trading of Pangolins to places like China and Vietnam, where their meat is eaten and their skin, scales and blood used for traditional medicines.

Pangolin that is eaten in restaurants isn’t even killed humanely. It is actually brought to the table still alive and then has its throat slit and its blood collected before it is cooked and served for as much as $350 a kilo, keeping in mind that most Pangolins weigh several kilos the average dish would cost over $1000 (Sutter, 2014).

The WWF states that between 2011 and 2013 an estimated 116,990-233,980 pangolins were killed for trading purposes, although this number could be a lot higher (WWF, 2016). This is a ridiculous number for that period of time. This overhunting is causing a drastic decrease in wild Pangolin numbers, particularly in the Asian species.

Pangolins are protected in Bangladesh, China, India, Lao, Myanmar, Nepal, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, either by national or subnational legislation (The Zoological Society of London, 2016). Despite this though the illegal hunting and trading of Pangolins and their products continues.

Pangolins play a part in maintaining their ecosystems and they’re just weirdly wonderful, more effort needs to be put in to stop the illegal hunting and trading of such an incredible little animal. They are not for our abuse and exploitation, it is our responsibility to protect them, not decimate them for our own uses.


Boix, C., 2013. The birth of a Pangolin. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2016].

Save Pangolins, 2016. What Is A Pangolin?. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2016].

Sutter, J. D., 2014. The most trafficked mammal you’ve never heard of. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2016].

The Zoological Society of London, 2016. Chinese pangolin. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2016].

WWF, 2016. Pangolin. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2016].





2 comments on “The most adorable artichoke

  1. shenaeryan
    May 7, 2016

    Wow, I thoroughly enjoyed this 🙂
    I am an animal lover, but I am very unfamiliar with the Pangolins. Their scales and tail really make them seem dinosaur-like don’t they? I can’t believe they use their tales to climb.. And some can walk on their back legs? Amazing!

    I am absolutely horrified with how Pangolins aren’t humanely killed. I can’t believe that they take them to the table in restaurants and slice their throats to collect their blood. I wonder what benefit their blood has for medicines?

    The poor creature already critically endangered in just a few years. I hope they really find a turn around and can prevent the illegal trading of Pangolins in the near future so that we don’t have to wave good-bye anytime soon.

    I was very surprised that they are more closely related to cats and dogs, rather than armadillos and anteaters. That is incredible.

    I couldn’t agree more with your argument. We are here to protect them, not to do with them as we wish. Imagine if we were treated that way? Humans have too much power.

    Thank-you for your post, it was very informative.


  2. hanhhe
    May 8, 2016

    It is a very informative post on Pangolins especially on their anatomy and behaviors.
    I used to work in a rescue center in Vietnam and had to pick the ticks hiding under their scale out so it was a nice link to my own experience.
    From your heading, I could expect that you will be writing about the species but from the second half of the article you are talking about the status of illegal hunting of Pangolins. Does it lead to some consequences? Is there any particular reason why this species is protected apart from being cute? Is there any findings on why they are killed for meat or medicine (from the cultural perspectives)?
    Like Rhinos and elephants which are killed for horn and ivory. the unsustainable killing that lead to some extinction came from the lack of education and social belief. To list one over the other on the protected list requires alot of resource and education should be the main focus for long term solution. Also, pointing out the importance of the species could also make your point stronger in raising people awareness.
    Thank you for the post.


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This entry was posted on May 7, 2016 by in Burwood - Friday 2pm, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .

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