Once abundant in jungles of Mewar, shy pangolins silently slide towards extinction

Udaipur: Four decades back the pangolin was abundant in the dense forests of Udaipur and Mewar in Rajasthan. Today it has become very rare. This unique creature is on the verge of extinction.

The shocking thing is that this species is fighting for survival not only in India but in other countries as well. The third Saturday in the month of February is celebrated as the World Pangolin Day all over the world. The aim is to make people aware so that this species could be saved from extinction. World Pangolin Day is celebrated worldwide for its protection. On this occasion, Bhaskar gathered information about pangolin.

Less than 100 survive in jungles of Mewar

Pangolins are endangered from being hunted for their scales and meat. They are seen as delicacies in parts of Asia, particularly China. Additional Conservator of Forests (ACF) Chhaitansingh Deora explained that in 1980s there were large numbers of pangolins in the forests of Mewar. Today their number is less than 100. The forest area of Phulwari ki Naal is their last stronghold.

They are friends of farmers

Pangolins are friend of the peasants. They are small nocturnal creatures who quietly roam through forests and savannahs eating termites and ants. They are solitary and easily frightened. Naturally shy creatures, they are seldom seen. Yet those dealing in the profitable illegal trade for them have been terribly effective in finding them.

Lacking the charisma of the largest or fastest animals of the world, the fact that they are being poached to extinction, has gone largely unnoticed by the world. Illegal slaughtering continues to rise and this gentle animal may soon be gone from the face of the earth.

Zoologist and environmentalist Prof. Shanti Lal Chaubisa points out that pangolin is a friend of farmers as it consumes termites and ants that ruin the crops. Pangolins keep the population of ants and termites in control and help in maintaining natural balance.

Superstition is killing pangolins

But superstition is killing these gentle animals. They are poached for their scales, which are used in traditional medicine although science does not endorse this. Unscrupulous witch doctors known as “tantriks” are responsible for the large-scale slaughter of these creatures due to superstition.

Steps should be taken to save pangolins: Prof. Chaubisa

Prof. Chaubisa said the international Union for Nature (IUCN) has included pangolin in the red list, which is a list of endangered organisms. In India, it is protected under Wildlife Protection Act-1972. There is provision for punishment on its hunting, harassment, poisoning or smuggling. Prof. Chaubisa said the universities, colleges, and the state forest department should take steps for its protection.