Sunday, November 10, 2013
The Poaching Epidemic You Haven’t Heard Of Yet
Why pangolins are the new rhinos
by Richard Connif
Pangolins are among the oddest and least-familiar animals on Earth. They’re mammals, but they’re armor-plated. Their chief defensive posture is to tuck their heads under their tails and roll up, like a basketball crossed with an artichoke. (It works: Even lions generally can’t get a grip.) They have tongues that are not only coated with a sticky, fly paper–like substance but can also extend up to 16 inches to probe into nests and snag ants for dinner. They’re shy, nocturnal and live either high up trees or deep underground.
Lisa Hywood has lately discovered just how charismatic these obscure creatures can be. At the Tikki Hywood Trust, her rescue center in Zimbabwe, one of her current guests, named Chaminuka, recognizes Hywood and makes a soft chuffing noise when she comes home. Then he stands up to hold her hand and greet her, she tells me. (Bit of a snob, though: He doesn’t deign to recognize her assistants.) Hywood finds working with pangolins even more emotionally powerful than working with elephants…
(read more: TakePart.org)
photograph by Sukree Sukplang/Reuters