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The Pangolin

News: The Odisha Forest Department has stressed the need for stricter monitoring of social media platforms to check pangolin poaching and trading. 

About the Species: They are scaly anteater mammals of the order Pholidota. 

Conservation Status:  

  • IUCN Status: Endangered (India- Critically Endangered) 
  • Wildlife Protection Act,1972: Under Schedule I of WPA, 1972 

 

Habitat: Out of the eight species of pangolin, the Indian Pangolin and the Chinese Pangolin are found in India:  

Indian Pangolin:  

  • Indian Pangolin is a large anteater covered by 11-13 rows of scales on the back. A terminal scale is also present on the lower side of the tail of the Indian Pangolin, which is absent in the Chinese Pangolin.  
  • The species is understood to occur in various types of tropical forests as well as open land, grasslands, and degraded habitats, including in close proximity to villages.  
  • Indian Pangolin is widely distributed in India, except the arid region, high Himalayas and the North-East. It can be found at elevation up to 2500 m. The species also occurs in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.  

Chinese Pangolin:  

  • It is found in the Himalayan foothills in Eastern Nepal, Bhutan, Northern India, North-East Bangladesh and through Southern China.  
  • It is adaptable to a wide range of habitats including primary and secondary tropical forests, limestone and bamboo forests, grasslands, and agricultural fields. 

Characteristics: 

  • Features:  
  • They have large, protective keratin scales covering their skin and they are the only known mammals with this feature. 
  • If under threat, a pangolin will immediately curl into a tight ball and will use their sharp-scaled tails to defend themselves. 
  • They tend to be solitary animals meeting only to mate and produce a litter of one to three offspring which they raise for about two years. 
  • Food Habits: They are nocturnal animals and their diet consists of mainly ants and termites which they capture using their long tongues. 

Threats: 

  • Trafficking of live pangolin and its scales is a highly lucrative business for the organized mafia who exploit poor and vulnerable forest-dwelling communities for their criminal interests. 
  • Hunting and poaching for local consumptive use (e.g. as a protein source and traditional medicine) and international trade, for its meat and scales. 
  • Heavy Deforestation of their Habitat.  
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