Dehradun: Every year, third Saturday of February is observed as World Pangolin Day to raise awareness about the world’s most trafficked mammal Pangolin. This year, Maaty Organization, Dehradun along with Uttarakhand Forest Department and Dehradun Zoo celebrated 10th World Pangolin Day and organized a mass awareness program campaign at Dehradun Zoo. This programmed aimed to sensitize the peoples about Pangolin, its threats and its conservation.
Pangolin a nocturnal, shy creature often mistaken as a reptile. Eight species of Pangolin are present worldwide in parts of the African and Asian continent, of these four species in Asia and four in Africa, while two species in India are Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) and Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyle).
Pangolin is a rare animal having a conical-shaped head, toothless jaws, and body completely coated with armor of scales made up of keratin. These scales provide a defense when attacked by a predator, as it curl up into a ball protecting it from the attack. A pangolin has sticky tongue, attached to its pelvis and the last pair of ribs and when extended can be up to half the length of the its body. The tongue helps the animal to catch the ants and termites in the deep cavities of the mounds. It has five toes in each paws, and three long, curved claws in their forefeet used to destroy termites and ants’ mounds and dig nesting and sleeping burrows which is up to a 1-2 meters long. Due to its poor vision it locates termites and ants by its sense of smell. One adult can consume approximately 20000 ants and insects per day and up to 70 million in a year. The pangolin has a key ecological role in saving the forest cover and agricultural lands from termites. Generally Pangolin is a solitary creature but during its mating period it live in a pair. Female Pangolin give birth to 1 pangolin in a year, baby Pangolin known as Pango-Pup is nuture by the female Pangolin and protected from every threat.
From last few decades the number of trafficking of Pangolin has increased tremendously for meat, superstition practices and in accessories making. According to a report 300 Pangolins are illegally poached per day. The rate of Poaching in a previous decade is 1000 tigers, 11000 Rhinos and 1,000,000 Pangolin which make it clear the status of threat to the species. Loss of habitat is another reason for shrinking numbers of Pangolin. For the conservation of Pangolin is in Endangered category of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and in Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 marked as Schedule I species.
On this occasion Dr. Ved Prakash, Founder and Scientist, Maaty Organization; Member, IUCN SSC Pangolin specialist group, discussed about the Pangolin, its distribution, major threats, how can we help in its conservation and raise awareness. He said that Maaty Team acknowledge the efforts and contribution of Shri S.S. Rasaily (APCCF, Uttarakhand Forest Department) and Shri P. K. Patro (Director, Dehradun Zoo Authority) in organizing the program. In continuation, Maaty Team along with its volunteers conducted the survey among the visitors and provide the information about the species through awareness materials including stickers, pamphlets and posters. Educated the visitors and children in and around the zoo and make sure that everyone gets well informed about the status of Pangolin and pledge to protect in every way possible. The children were very excited and curious to know about the species. They were happy to receive the stickers while adults also showed interested to know about the species and clarified few misconceptions about it. Dr. Himani Badoni, Ms. Oyndrila Sanyal, Mr. Udit Rajpoot, Ms. Anupriya, Ms. Pratiksha Mahar, Ms. Shefali Rana, Mr. Mritunjay Chowdhury and the volunteers involved wholeheartedly to make the event successful.