Mammals

Sunda Pangolin

Sunda Pangolin, Manis javanica

A critically endangered Sunda Pangolin, Manis javanica, also known as the Malayan Pangolin photographed in the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex, Thailand. In Thailand pangolins are classified as Protected Wild Animals under the 1992 Wild Animals Reservation and Protection Act B.E. 2535

There is virtually no information available on current population levels of this increasingly rare pangolin. The Sunda Pangolin is rarely observed, principally because of its increasing rarity, but also because of it’s elusive and mainly nocturnal ways.

So rarely is this creature sighted in the open in Thailand’s forests that this is not only the first time our cameras have captured an image of one in Kaeng Krachan National Park but it is the first time we have captured an image of one anywhere, in four years of camera placement in various locations in Thailand.

Sunda Pangolins are covered in tough, overlapping keratin scales and live predominantly on a diet of ants and termites, using their extended sticky tongue to extract them. They will also supplement their diet with other invertebrates potentially including insect larvae, flies, worms, and crickets. Pangolins are famously known for being able to quickly roll themselves up into a tight defensive ball when threatened. The ball is hard to penetrate by all predators except one particular species - humans. Pangolins dig burrows for sleeping and nesting that contain multiple chambers as well as also sleeping in hollows and forks of trees as well as fallen trees and logs.

Both poaching for illegal wildlife trade and habitat loss have made pangolins one of the most endangered groups of mammals in the world as once a burrow is located, illegal poachers will trap them at the burrow entrances or dig out the burrows so the animals cannot flee. Their balling defense strategy does not offer them any protection from the despicable ways of the poacher.

And why is this animal so coveted by the criminal poaching fraternity? To quote the IUCN…………

Excerpts from http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/12763/0

“The primary threat to Manis javanica is hunting and poaching for international trade, both targeted and untargeted, and which is largely driven by export trade to China, involving live animals, their meat and scales…”

“In both China and Viet Nam pangolin meat is consumed as a luxury product and scales are used in traditional medicines in an attempt to cure skin ailments, improve blood circulation and stimulate milk secretion in lactating women, among other ailments….”

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